Seven Pakistani cement companies have acquired provisional certification from the Bureau of Indian Standards to sell their product in India while they complete procedures for the final stamp of approval from the quality-control authority.
Officials at the Indian High Commission here said earlier this month inspectors of the Bureau of Indian Standards visited three companies and took back product samples for testing. The testing process will take about four weeks.
Meanwhile, the BIS has given these three companies – Lucky Cement, Maple Leaf and Pakistan Cement – and four others that are in the process of registering online for the certification provisional permission to send consignments to India for five months, said a senior Indian official.
The cement is tested for compressive strength and the process takes a minimum of 25 days, but the officials said BIS was fast-tracking the process at the intervention of the Prime Minister’s Office.
After India opened up to cement imports to meet the huge demand for it, Pakistani cement manufacturers sent consignments that Indian customs held back as the exporters did not have BIS certification. The consignments were released only after the Indian importers gave guarantees. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Tasnim Aslam said the problems for Pakistani cement exports to India were likely to be discussed at the two-day meeting of the Commerce Secretaries, which begins in New Delhi on Tuesday, and at an August 2 Joint Working Group meeting that will focus, among other issues, on non-tariff barriers.
“We are very keen to export cement to India which is at the moment not possible because of the conditionalities,” she said on Monday.
Indian officials here said the BIS requirements were not Pakistan-specific but applied to all cement imports. Three Chinese cement firms are also reported to be waiting for BIS certification.
Pakistan manufactures around 25Mt against an installed capacity of 32Mt. Cement manufacturers have said the capacity could increase to 40Mt by the end of this fiscal year.
The Indian demand for cement next year is projected at 180Mt against the installed capacity of 132Mt.
Pakistan Commerce Secretary Syed Asif Ali Shah is leading a 12-member delegation for talks with his counterpart G. K. Pillai.
“The agenda encompasses all aspects of bilateral economic and trade relations,” the spokesperson said.