|Afghanistan To Boost Cement Output Amid Pakistani Export Ban|
|10. April 2006, 02:20|
PESHAWAR (Asia Pulse) - Following Pakistan's recent ban on cement exports to Afghanistan, the country's Ministry for Commerce said on Sunday that the government had increased investment in the sector to meet local demand and also control prices.
Head of Foreign Trade Department with Afghanistan's Ministry for Commerce Mohammad Azim, in an exclusive interview, told Pajhwok Afghan News that the department had discussed locally producing cement prior to the export ban by Pakistan.
He said that from US$200 million to $300 million more had been invested in the project, but he would not disclose names of the investors.
Pakistan banned import due to its own spiralling demand, prompted by rebuilding following the October 8 earthquake. Pakistan's Earthquake Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Authority (ERAA) said that many villages were flattened in Azad Kashmir and NWFP in the October 8 earthquake and rebuilding would need more cement. ERRA said Pakistan had banned sending of cement to Kabul as its export had dried the product in Pakistan and prices were increasing.
Azim Wardak said the ban had caused a spike in Afghanistan's cement prices, which in the last couple of week have increased by 100 afghanis (US$2.03).
"Shortage of cement has not been reported from any corner of the country, however the prices have been went up and touched 300 afghanis to 400 afghanis," Wardak said. He added that national traders had been instructed to import cement from Uzbekistan and Iran.
Head of Afghanistan's Construction Company Abdullah Nadi said that the Pakistani export ban had plunged many domestic rebuilding works into crisis. He said he feared some reconstruction work on might be halted due to cement shortages.
He also noted that Afghani traders were considering investing in cement manufacturing to east the country's dependence on imports.
It is reported that Afghanistan needs 10,000 tons cement every year, an amount which could be easily be provided if the cement factories of Ghouri and Jabal Siraj were reactivated. Such is the capacity of these factories Afghanistan could begin exporting cement to neighbouring countries.
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