Saudi Arabia lifts ban on cement exports as construction sector slows

Saudi Arabia lifts ban on cement exports as construction sector slows

A senior official in Saudi Arabia has said that the kingdom's ban on cement exports has been lifted.

According to reports from Reuters, the ban - imposed in 2008 and renewed in 2012 - has been overturned because of a slowdown in the construction sector, which has led to an oversupply of cement.

Dr Ahmed Zugail, director general of Yanbu Cement Company and deputy head of the National Committee for Cement Companies, told the Al Riyadh newspaper that he welcomed the news, given that Saudi Arabian producers had a surplus of 21Mt of clinker. However, he said he wanted to see more detail on the new rules from the Ministry of Commerce. 

Dr Zugail identified Egypt, Yemen and Iraq as potential export markets, adding that opportunities in other African countries would also be pursued. 

However, Mohammed Alomran of the Saudi Economic Association told Reuters: "It seems the surrounding countries have a slowdown too, while Yemen is still not stable (enough) to be rebuilt. But the cost of transportation by land is very expensive and may not be feasible."

Under the new controls, exporters would have to keep a stockpile of clinker equivalent to 10 per cent of their annual production.

Shares in Saudi cement companies rose on the news: the cement index was up 5.3 per cent on the previous day, while Southern Province Cement Company and Saudi Cement finished up 5.8 per cent and 5.7 per cent respectively.