Eight local cement producers have agreed to gradually cut their exports to zero within the next five years after Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra expressed concern over the industry’s impact on the environment. Limited impact is viewed on cement producers as cement exports contributed less profit to them. In addition, cement exports have been decreasing from 20Mt in 1998 to 12Mt last year due to rising domestic demand. Exports this year would be cut to 10Mt, from 12Mt last year. Most of the products are shipped to neighbouring countries such as Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, as well as other markets including the United States. The eight producers were also asked to set more appropriate export price levels to narrow the gap.
Siripol Yodmuangcharoen, director-general of the ministry’s Internal Trade Department, said the results of the meeting would be submitted to Commerce Minister Watana Muangsook and then to Mr Thaksin. Mr Siripol said was confident that local manufacturers would be able to reduce exports as planned, as the lost revenue could be offset by rising demand from the recovering real estate sector. Local cement consumption is expected to be 26Mt this year. All eight manufacturers now produce 35Mt from their combined capacity of 55Mt. Last year, approximately 23Mt were used locally and 12Mt exported (local news reports).