The cement sector posted the highest-ever sales growth of 44.39% in March 2021 on the back of a significant increase in domestic consumption and exports.

According to data released by the All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association (APCMA) on Friday, total cement sales came in at 5.37 million tons in March 2021 against 3.72 million tons in the same month of previous year.

Of the total, local cement offtake stood at 4.56 million tons in March 2021, showing a healthy growth of 41.96% against 3.21 million tons in March 2020.

Exports soared 59.8%, rising from 507,480 tons in March 2020 to 810,962 tons in March 2021.

Last month, mills in the north delivered 3.8 million tons of cement to the domestic market against 2.75 million tons in March 2020, an increase of 38.52%.

Cement mills based in the southern region sold 753,704 tons in the domestic market, which was 62.28% higher than sales of 464,440 tons in March 2020. Exports from mills in the northern region soared 162.58%, going up from 106,759 tons in March 2020 to 280,330 tons in March 2021.

Similarly, exports from southern mills rose 32.42% to 530,632 tons in March 2021 against 400,721 tons in the same month of last year.

In the first nine months (Jul-Mar) of the current fiscal year, total cement sales (domestic and exports) stood at 43.32 million tons, up 16.99% compared to 37 million tons in the corresponding period of previous fiscal year.

Domestic offtake increased 18.29% to 36.18 million tons in Jul-Mar FY21 from 30.59 million tons in Jul-Mar FY20.

During the nine-month period under review, mills based in the north sold 30.6 million tons of cement in the domestic market, which was 17.75% higher than 26 million tons in the same period of last fiscal year.

Exports from northern mills edged down 0.22% to 1.911 million tons. Cement manufacturers based in the northern region had sent 1.915 million tons abroad during the same period of last fiscal year.

Southern mills sold 5.55 million tons in the domestic market in the first nine months of current fiscal year, which was 21.36% higher than 4.57 million tons in the corresponding period of last fiscal year.

 However, the sales growth was accompanied by some troubling signs as electricity and coal prices had been on a consistent uptrend. Being energy intensive, the cement industry is struggling to stay afloat because of a persistent rise in major input costs, says the association.

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