Cement exports may double
Author / Source : RAFIQ HASAN
DHAKA, NOV 20: Cement exporters are now upbeat on doubling exports of the construction materials to the northeast Indian states, also known as ‘seven sisters,’ following Delhi’s declaration to give duty- free access to all goods from LDC states in the Saarc region, including Bangladesh. “We hope export would increase significantly and at least be double from the existing amount if the facilities are allowed,” said a cement exporter. Such zero tariff benefit was a long-time demand of the cement exporters, he pointed out.
Currently, around two lakh tonnes of cement are being exported to India annually. Industry insiders, however, say such benefit would be visible in the upcoming construction season.
According to sources construction activities remain dull on both sides of the border during rainy season mainly due to lack of brick.
“We are yet to get any confirmation from the governments of India and Bangladesh about the duty free access of cement,” said Abdul Khaleq Parvez, vice-president of Bangladesh Cement Manufacturers Association (BCMA), a platform of private cement factory owners.
“We read in the newspaper and we are expecting a notification very soon in this regard,” he added.
On November 9, India granted duty free access of all products from five least developed nations of South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (Saarc), including Bangladesh, except wine and tobacco, according to an official notification of the Indian government.
Although Bangladesh has a surplus amount of cement after meting its domestic demand, the absence of Delhi’s zero tariff benefit remained as a barrier to boosting its exports to the seven sisters.
The cement factories in the country have the capacity to produce over 20 million tonnes against the local demand of 8-10 million tonnes. Of these, only around two lakh tones are exported to India.
According to sources, 8-10 major factories are engaged in cement exports to the neighbouring country. “So far my knowledge, nowhere other than India, cement is exported from Bangladesh,” Parvez earlier told The independent over telephone.
Industry people said the present market demand for cement in northeast Indian states is around 3 million tonnes, while those states produce around 1 million tonnes only. These states bring cement by road from distant West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Bihar states. Bangladeshi cement has a competitive advantage there due to its lower transportation cost, industry sources said.
As a result, the sources said, the demand of Bangladeshi cement in seven sister states is very high as those are cheaper than the product coming from other states.
It took three to four days to reach a truck loaded with cement from West Bengal to Tripura. On the other hand, if it is imported from Bangladesh it can be reached within 10 to 15 hours.
As a result, the transport cost is much lower and traders of those states feel much comfort to import cement from Bangladesh, the source elaborates. They said cement production in Bangladesh boomed since late 1980s as dozens of cement factories were set up in different parts of the country. Some multi-national companies also came up and set up production plants here. The major cement factories in the country are Crown Cement, Diamond Cement, Premier cement, Heidelberg Cement, Lafarge Surma Cement, Confidence Cement, Meghna Cement, Niloy Cement, Aramit Cement, Padma Cement and Modern Cement.
Crown Cement has been the top cement exporting company to India from Bangladesh since 2003. According to MI Cement Ltd, the company exported 68,000 tonnes Crown Cement fetching US$ 5.48 million between the period of July 2009 to June, 2010. The company earned $2.267 million through exporting cement in 2008-09 fiscal.