Lafarge’s Zimbabwe unit feels pressure of cement imports

Lafarge’s Zimbabwe unit feels pressure of cement imports

By Kuda Chideme, HARARE June 5 (The Source) – The local unit of global cement group Lafarge says it has stopped exporting into the region citing unfair competition from cheaper Pakistani-made cement and the inhibitive cost of production in Zimbabwe.

Chief executive Amal Tantawi told The Source on Friday that cement imports from the Far East, especially Pakistan had rendered exporting into the region an unviable option.

Pakistan has over the years increased its production capacity, flooding the region forcing South Africa to impose anti-dumping duties of as much as 77 percent while the Ghana Cement Manufacturers Association (GCMA) has proposed a similar move to safeguard its industry.

“You cannot expect us to compete with the Pakistanis because as it is Zimbabwe is a high cost country. Making the product here for the export market is expensive. We tried it before but when we had a look at the numbers we saw that it was not viable,” said Tantawi, adding that the cost of producing clinker in Zimbabwe was especially prohibitive.

As a result, the company was concentrating on increasing its share of the local market.

Lafarge had expected to take advantage of a construction boom in Mozambique, particularly the Tete region.

In the full-year to December 2014, clinker export volumes declined by 15,000 tonnes.

The gross turnover recorded in 2014 declined by 11 percent to $60,4 million following a seven percent reduction in local sales and a three percent reduction on average cement selling prices.