Between 2017 and 2023, cement exports collapsed

Between 2017 and 2023, cement exports collapsed
Between 2017 and 2023, cement exports collapsed

The export of cement abroad has fallen in the last seven years, according to figures presented by the Bolivian Institute of Foreign Trade (IBCE), based on data from the National Institute of Statistics (INE). Paraguay, the main destination of these sales, has limited its imports.

The numbers that appear in the IBCE bulletin indicated that cement exports fell from $us 10.4 million to $us 200,000 between the period 2017-2023. In 2018, exports reached US$5.1 million; In 2019 it was $5.7 million; In 2020 it reached $3.2 million; In 2021 it was $us 3.1 million and in 2022 the figure fell to $us 1.4 million.

Cement exports have fallen in recent years.

Given the drop in these numbers, the head of the IBCE Technical Advisory Unit, Rommel Saavedra, pointed out that the main reason for this situation being recorded is that Paraguay has limited its imports.

“Our main market (for export) is the Paraguayan, but the Paraguayan government has begun to limit its exports to protect its industry,” Saavedra said.

For her part, the president of the College of Economists of Santa Cruz, Claudia Pacheco, recalled that in 2020, Paraguay released cement imports without many demands, which favored Bolivia. This decree, Pacheco continued, was temporary because The objective was to achieve internal supply which due to low production was out of supply.

“Meanwhile, the three cement companies in Paraguay invested to increase production, even supplying their domestic market and being able to offer cement for export, so at the end of 2023 with this objective achieved, they indicated that they would put import restrictions so that local companies recover the market.”

The accumulated percentage, between 2017 and 2023, for cement exports to neighboring nations was Paraguay 95%; Peru 2% and Argentina 2%, while 1% goes to other countries.

EL DEBER consulted cement companies about these numbers, but they did not respond.

In November of last year, the Minister of Industry and Commerce of Paraguay, Javier Giménez, indicated that the current administration reduced the amount in cement import licenses.

“When we started the current government, we removed from the market licenses that had already been signed by the previous government, with a record issuance they released 2,800,000 bags. What we gave now was 600,000 bags, a quota for the quarter of 10,000 tons per month, with which we are significantly reducing cement imports and we are going to continue doing so gradually,” said the Paraguayan authority.

Giménez added that licenses were authorized for 30,000 tons, compared to the 140,000 tons that the previous government released between July and August 2023, in cement imports, which already achieved a 78% reduction.

That is why there is such a large level of internal stock of imported cement, said Giménez, while admitting that understands the position of the national industry of wanting to reduce licenses from 100 to 0.

Looking to the future, Pacheco pointed out that Bolivia, being a member of Mercosur, has a potential market for the sale of cement in this organization. “We have to see where we can redirect those exports or that the Vice Ministry of Foreign Trade is in charge of reaching new agreements for exports.”

Economist Jaime Dunn pointed out that markets should be free so that they can compete without limitations. “Industries should not depend on whether or not permits existbecause in this case, the Bolivian industry is harmed due to the suspension of these temporary permits, therefore, the protectionist measures end up harming the local market.

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