The Egyptian Minister of Foreign Trade and Industry, Rashid Mohamed Rashid, has announced that Egypt will remove tariffs on cement imports which amount to 10 per cent for unpacked cement and 20 per cent for packed cement imports.
Local cement companies, whether totally Egyptian or subsidiaries of international companies, produce about 35Mta - 25Mt for local consumption and 10Mt for exportation to the international markets.
Cement sector analysts say the decision will impact prices in the local market though these prices are the lowest on the regional and international levels. Cement prices in neighboring Arab countries range from US$55 to US$60 /t while in Egypt they range from US$39 to US$42/t.
In his statement to reporters, Rashid said the decision would help stabilise the construction sector and advance public interest. "The decision was taken after holding meetings with concerned departments and local cement producers," the minister said.
Foreign cement producers in Egypt control nearly 40 of the market, including Lafarge, Cimpor, and the Cemex. Rashid added that his ministry was considering ways to boost Egypt’s cement exports to help use excess production capacity in the local market.
He explained that the move would come as part of an ambitious plan to increase cement experts to about US$180m to US$200m in 2004 and US$300m in 2005.
The removal of tariffs on cement imports comes amid a series of other measures the government takes in order to balance the market, including a recent decision that suspended anti-dumping measures imposed on Egypt’s imports of iron construction bars and plates.