2003 was a record year for Trinidad Cement Limited, (TCL), setting a new sales record for cement in all three territories in which it operates. The group sold some 1.697Mt of cement, an increase of 38, 800t up from the 1.658Mt in 2002. This figure is expected to grow to almost 2.5Mt by 2012. Cement sales accounted for 87 per cent of the total revenue (TT$1.2 billion), an increase of 23.9 million over 2002). Dr Rollin Bertrand, group chief executive officer, said Jamaica sold the highest ever volume, but they were unable to benefit from it because of certain market issues.
’We were not able to capitalise on it because of the problems with dumping. We instituted what is called a manufacturing excellence transformation programme in all three of our cement plants,’ he said. Bertrand also told a group of investors gathered at the Grand Barbados Hotel, that they as a group filed several cases, and received some relief toward the end of the year through some Safeguard legislation. ’This has nothing to do with protection, this is about the new environment that we are in. In a globalised environment one has to understand the rules and play by them. And according to the new rules we are entitled to safeguards protection and we are entitles to protection against unfair predatory practices,’ he said.
In the annual report, chairman David Dulal-Whiteway said the safeguard measure which went into effect on December 16, 2003, placed a duty of 25.83 per cent on imported cement to Jamaica, on top of the 15 per cent common external tariff. This remains in effect for 200 days until the Anti-Dumping and Subsidies Commission makes a final determination. ’The commission had publicly stated that the next stage of the investigation would be completed by 13th April 2004. However, they have recently requested an extension of up to three months. Any duty imposed as part of the final determination will remain in force for a period of three (3) years during which time Carib Cement will have the opportunity to complete its upgrade project and become globally competitive,’ said Dulal-Whiteway.
The annual report noted that substantial investments were made in plant and equipment; Caribbean Cement Company Limited (CCCL) in Jamaica, TT$49.7m; Arawak Cement Company Limited (ACCL), TT$29.2m; Trinidad Cement Limited, TT$21.5m; Ready-Mix West Indies Limited (RML) TT$11.9m; and TCL Packaging Limited, TT$5.1m.
Bertrand said one of the questions often asked was how a small cement plant would survive in the global market place. ’We are very confident about our ability to supply because of our strategies we are developing and will continue to develop,’ he said.