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‘Cheaper Pakistani Imports, High Tax at Home Hurt Indian Cement Industry’

Cement

New Delhi: Cheaper cement imports from Pakistan are hurting the domestic industry, which is already reeling under the impact of low demand and high GST, cement producers in Punjab and Kerala claim. There’s been no customs duty on cement imports from Pakistan since 2007, making it competitive in comparison to the Indian product, especially in the states bordering Pakistan. “Pakistani cement is almost 10-15 percent cheaper than Indian cement,” Shailendra Chouksey, president of Cement Manufacturers Associations said.

Data from the Directorate General of Foreign Trade’s website showed that total imports of portland cement during 2017-18 (April-March) were 16.82 lakh metric tonne. Out of the total imports, industry sources say, 76 percent — around 12.72 lakh tonne — was imported from Pakistan.

In Punjab, the market rate of it is in Portland is Rs 280-300 per bag (1 bag = 50 kg), while the Pakistani import is sold at Rs 240-250 per bag, traders said. Although market players across the country have not been affected much so far due to the high imports, industry in states bordering Pakistan and the coastal state of Kerala have been severely hit, industry sources said. Imports to Kerala come from Karachi via sea.

The producers say the domestic industry is self-sufficient and any further imports only render a significant amount of the domestic produce futile. “A major concern is that Indian capacity is already very underutilized. We are hardly utilizing 65 percent of the Indian capacity. The remaining 35 percent remains unutilized,” Chouksey said. Its import from Pakistan for the period December 2017 and March 2018 have witnessed a growth of 24 percent on a year-on-year basis at 4.55 lakh tonnes, up from 3.68 lakh tonnes. (IANS)