Turkish cement sector prepares for COVID-19 impact after strong start to 2020

Turkish cement sector prepares for COVID-19 impact after strong start to 2020
20 April 2020

The Turkish cement sector made a hopeful start in 2020 following a challenging 2019 when it contracted by around 30 per cent. The domestic market showed signs of recovery in January and in March a significant increase in exports was noted.

“The production of the Turkish cement industry increased by 31 per cent to 3.6Mt in January 2020 when compared with the same period of the previous year. In the first month of the year, domestic sales increased by 16.8 per cent compared to the same period of the previous year and reached 2.5Mt,” according to Dr Tamer Saka, chairman of the Turkish Cement Manufacturers Association.

“While the total cement and clinker exports of the sector increased by 54 per cent in the first quarter of the year, export revenue increased by 33 per cent to US$276m. In the same period, cement exports increased by 57.1 per cent and reached 3.8Mt, while clinker exports increased by 51 per cent to 4.2Mt,” said Dr Saka.

Coronavirus impact
However, the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic impacted the sector’s supply chain. The decline in debt collection and commercial activity brought a fall in domestic demand while the cancellation of overseas orders led to a drop in export revenues. “Although the increase in export figures is promising after the contraction in 2019, we will see the negative effects of the epidemic over time,” said Dr Saka. As sales are forecast to drop further, the cement association expects to see employment affected as well as noting a fall in capacity utilisation, which it currently puts at around 65 per cent.

Therefore, the cement association welcomed the US$15.4bn Economic Stability Package introduced by the Turkish government but was keen to see it expanded to sectors such as the cement and ready-mix concrete markets, to support the industry’s employment security and foreign currency input into the country.

Health and safety measures
The Turkish cement industry is adapting its health and safety practices in line with the development of the pandemic. “First of all, our most valuable resource for our sector and for the country's economy is human. For this reason, the health and safety of our employees always comes first in the sector,” according to Dr Saka. Measures taken range from the shift work system to home working with members holding virtual meetings. Employees with serious chronic illnesses have also been directed to rest or work from home.

“The cement sector works with strict measures at normal times. The cement sector is one of the leading sectors in the field of occupational health and safety with the necessity to work with special equipment such as hard hats, masks, glasses and work shoes and strict application of the rules in this regard. Therefore, in the case of the pandemic we are in, our sector took very fast action and quickly adapted its employees to the new rules. All measures are taken at the highest level to ensure hygiene conditions such as social distance protection, fire and health monitoring, mask and disinfectant use in the work areas. We also closely follow current developments to determine whether all these recommendations need to be updated,” explained the TCMB chairman.

Published under Cement News