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Stabroek News

Mainland re-enters cement import market with shipment from China
published: Wednesday | September 13, 2006

Mainland International, a hardware retailer, re-entered the cement import market Tuesday with a 40,000 tonne shipment from China.

The cement won't hit the market for another week, the company said, noting it would "take about eight days for offloading."

Mainland had exited the market after government imposed safeguard protection on the industry, pushing duties on the imported product to 40 per cent to protect sole producer Caribbean Cement Company and the US$130 million investment it was about to make to expand its plant.

A breakdown of quality control procedures last October saw faulty cement entering the market into the first quarter of this year, sending the construction sector and building projects into turmoil.

Speedy flows

Government cut cement duties to 15 per cent before eliminating them altogether, temporarily, to allow for speedy flows of the commodity into the island.

Caribbean Cement, ARC Systems and now Mainland have brought supplies in to sell to hardware merchants and builders.

Mainland's shipment from China "is a mixture of both bagged cement, favoured by small consumers, and bulk cement for developers, concrete suppliers and block makers," said senior vice-president Garth Walker.

"As hardware merchants ourselves we know what the absence of a consistent and reliable supply of cement does to the trade and the construction industry, so we are happy to be back on track."

Carib Cement, in six months, January to June, sold 442,000 tonnes to the market, 80,000 of which it imported. Mainland, meanwhile, has plans to establish a cement processing and bagging plant in St. Catherine on which it is likely to break ground by year-end.

business@gleanerjm.com

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