The Phnom Penh Post

Steel, cement imports dip 29%

- Hin Pisei

CAMBODIA’S steel and cement imports were worth $469.88 million last year, eroded by 28.66 per cent from $658.71 million in 2019, as the Covid-19 crisis put a halt to many constructi­on projects, slowing activity to a crawl.

In 2020, the Kingdom bought $403.63 million worth of steel, down by 27.52 per cent year-on-year from $556.85 million in 2019, and cement to the tune of $66.25 million, down by 48.59 per cent on a yearly basis from $128.86 million, according to the Ministry of Commerce’s 2020 annual results report.

Cambodia Constructo­rs Associatio­n general manager Chiv Sivpheng told The Post that the drop was directly linked to the spread of the novel coronaviru­s, which threw some constructi­on projects off schedule.

The market will rebound once the epidemic is brought completely under control, he said, adding that investment in the constructi­on sector will “surely recover”.

“When constructi­on activity declines, [the flow of] all supporting materials in the constructi­on sector will decline as well. Even capital investment­s for constructi­on approved by the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Constructi­on in 2020 showed negative signs compared to 2019,” Sivpheng said.

On the other hand, cement imports, which Sivpheng pointed out nearly halved last year, were also driven down by a surge in domestic production, he noted.

Cambodia Cement Manufactur­ing Associatio­n secretary-general Puth Chandarith told The Post in February that the Kingdom’s five cement factories produced 7.9 million tonnes of finished product last year, marking a seven per cent gain from 2019 even with myriad constructi­on projects put on hold by Covid-19 throughout the year.

“This seven per cent increase indicates that demand for cement remains high despite the fact that Covid-19 continues to spread,” he said, adding Cambodia’s cement factories are expected to produce even more this year, making a larger contributi­on to national economic developmen­t.

Growth in domestic cement production plays an increasing­ly important role in replacing imports, which are predominan­tly from Thailand, Vietnam and China, he said.

Suon Rithy, marketing manager atVietname­se-based steel manufactur­ing and constructi­on firm PEB Steel Buildings Co Ltd, said company sales last year were down slightly due to Covid concerns, which prompted some developers to halt constructi­on.

Demand for iron and steel will rise once Covid is over, he said. “Growth in steel imports from abroad to Cambodia will jump, depending on when Covid-19 can be controlled.”

Capital investment in the Kingdom’s constructi­on sector in the first nine months of 2020 fell 9.6 per cent to $5.868 billion from the $6.494 billion logged in the same period in 2019, the land ministry reported.

 ?? FRESH NEWS ?? The Kingdom has logged a surge in domestic production of cement as imports nearly halved in 2020.
FRESH NEWS The Kingdom has logged a surge in domestic production of cement as imports nearly halved in 2020.

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