Cement data has been released by the All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association (APCMA) showing 14.2 per cent total cement dispatches growth for the first nine months of 2004 over the corresponding period last year. Looking forward, the sector has set hopes for strong outlook with total dispatches for 2004 expected to surpass 13Mt, implying a dispatch growth close to 15 per cent for 2004. Furthermore, it is widely expected that the government will reduce General Sales Tax to 12 per cent in the 2005 budget.
Cement exports during March 2004 reached 780,000 tons. This is a new record both on a month wise and period wise basis. Bestway Cement is the largest cement exporter with exports of 172,000t followed by Cherat Cement with 136,000t and DG Khan Cement with 121,000t. It has been learnt that the Cherat Cement brand has been enjoying a premium in Afghanistan, resulting in a better price. With transportation costs low, Cherat has been enjoying substantially better margins than its peers.
Local cement dispatches have shown 8.3 per cent growth to 9.01Mt for the nine months ending March 2004. DG Khan Cement, Pakistan’s biggest cement plant, has led domestic dispatches with 939,000t, followed by Maple Leaf and Lucky Cement. Northern Cement manufacturers, with three times greater capacity than their southern counterparts, have led dispatches with 7.6Mt as compared to 2.1Mt for the southern zone.