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Cheap cement imports crippling South African industry, says Databuild

16 January 2020

South African cement manufacturers are being severely
undermined by cheap imports from countries such as China, Vietnam and Pakistan,
an industry official said on Wednesday.

The government’s failure to stem the influx of these
products could have a severe detrimental impact on an already struggling
industry, Databuild CE Morag Evans said in a statement.

Databuild is a knowledge hub for the construction and
related industries and a key source of intelligence required by the sector.

“In an industry already in the grips of a severe downturn
owing to the decline in infrastructure development, not only are these imports
negatively impacting the competitiveness of our local manufacturers, but
independent studies have shown the quality of these international products to
be inferior,” Evans said.

A recent investigation conducted by PPC Cement revealed
extensive contravention of cement quality regulations, with the majority of 14
products tested from ten different producers being either over or underweight
and of inconsistent quality.

“Allowing sub-standard products to be released into the
market is unacceptable, as the long-term health, safety and environmental
implications could be severe, to say the least,” said Evans.

“Consequently, government should urgently consider
imposing stricter cement standards, while cement producers need to continue
educating users on the importance of using cement that has been certified as
compliant with technical regulations.”

She said the Concrete Institute’s petition to the government
to impose 45% import tariffs on cement imports could go a long way toward
protecting local manufacturers from cheap imports, noting that imports from
Pakistan had declined in 2016 following the implementation of between 17% and
70% import duties.

“South Africa has numerous cement-producing plants which are more than capable of keeping up with local demand,” said Evans, noting however that with 158 of the world’s 195 countries producing cement, it could prove challenging to protect local manufacturers. http://www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/cheap-cement-imports-crippling-south-african-industry-says-databuild-2020-01-15

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