Cement firm’s output surges but there are no buyers

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By Adel Kadhem

Azzaman, September 15, 2012

An Iraqi cement plant has stockpiles of nearly $50 million worth of cement but can find no buyers in Iraq.

The Southern Cement Factory says its warehouses are full and it may halt production due to lack of interest in its output.

The factory is self-reliant and is entitled to no subsidies from the government. It was a success story and its earnings had helped it build its own 39-megawatt power plant at a cost of $40 million.

But the bright side did not continue as cheap cement imports drove buyers away.

The stagnation in sales has now made it increasingly difficult for it to pay its workers.

Iraqi parliamentarians visiting the factory urged the government and the private sector to give preference to locally produced cement.

Abdulhussein Abtan said Iraqi markets were flooded with imported cement and both the government and the private sector were buying from the open market.

He said there was misperception that the Iraqi cement was of lower quality. However, he added, the company had documents from both Iraqi and international experts heaping praise on its products and confirming its high quality.

Government-run companies and enterprises are obliged to give locally produced goods preferential treatment and Abtan urged the government to apply the rules.

The events in Syria have led to a hike in construction materials in Iraq recently and Abtan said the company’s prices were competitive.

Syrian products were cheap in comparison to exports from other neighboring states.