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Ghana Cement Spio justifies cement imports from China

The Cement Manufacturers Association of Ghana (CMAG) has expressed anger at what it calls a decision by Minister of Trade & Industry, to offer a permit to a Chinese to import 500,000 metric tons of cement into Ghana without the approval of the Cement Monitoring Committee established by government.

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Dr Ekow Spio-Garbrah play

Dr Ekow Spio-Garbrah

The Minister of Trade and Industry Minister, Dr. Ekwow Spio Garbrah has explained that the cement regulation law was set up to regulate the import of cement into the country and not to totally ban them as being claimed by cement manufacturers in Ghana.

The Cement Manufacturers Association of Ghana (CMAG) has expressed anger at what it calls a decision by Minister of Trade & Industry, to offer a permit to a Chinese to import 500,000 metric tons of cement into Ghana without the approval of the Cement Monitoring Committee established by government.

Speaking at a press conference at Tema, Chairman of CMAG, Dr George Dawson-Ahmoah, said such a move will affect the profit margins of local cement manufacturers, as well as their ability to employ more people.

But in a response, the Trade Minister said the 500 thousand bags imported by Fujian, a Korean cement company is only but a quarter of what is being imported into the country yearly, adding that the move will not pose any threat to the local cement manufacturers.

“All these companies were already importing cement before the cement regulation came out. The cement regulation was not intended to ban the importation of cement, it was supposed to regulate, in other words to preferably reduce the total quantities of cement imported into the country each year,” the Minister said.

“According to the cement manufacturers themselves and also figures from the customs annual cement, imports could be in the region of one million to two million in a year. So if you give a company only 500 thousand bags of cement to import, which is something in the region of about 25,000 tonnes, that is a small fraction of the total amount of cement imported into the country,” he added.

Dr Spio Garbrah added that under the legislation, the minister is the only authority required to approve the licenses for these companies.

Background

Dr George Dawson-Ahmoah, Chairman of CMAG had earlier said “from 2014 to date, Ghana has been witnessing the importation of cement mainly from China to compete with local manufacturers.”

“The continuous up swelling of cement imports will compel local manufacturers to scale down operations and the negative economic consequences are so obvious to mention.

“It is, therefore, mind-boggling to see the ascendancy of cement imports from China by SOL and Fujian, and from Korea and Nigeria by Dangote cement, despite persistent petitions that manufacturers have installed capacities to meet local demand,” he said.

The Ministry of Trade & Industry, in collaboration with Cabinet, Parliament, and the support of the local cement manufacturers, has recently passed the Legislative Instrument (L.I.) 2240 to regulate exports and imports of Portland Cement.

However, the local manufacturers argue that a permit for 500,000 tonnes of bagged cement has been signed and issued by the Minister of Trade & Industry without recourse to procedures enshrined in the LI.

The association, which currently comprises GHACEM Limited, Tema; GHACEM Limited, Takoradi; Diamond Cement Ghana Limited, Aflao; Savanna Diamond Company Limited, Buipe and Western Diamond Cement Limited, Takoradi, argue that the move by the Minister constitutes unfair trade practices in the country.

“Cement manufacturers condemn this illegal, disrespectful act which is injurious to the local cement industry. Apart from the Minister’s disregard to the inherent procedural arrangement of regulations clearly spelt out in the L.I. 2240, we, the local cement manufacturers, maintain that this menace poses a setback and challenge to the Ministry of Trade & Industry and the Association of Ghana Industries’ promotion of made-in-Ghana products and the sustenance of thousands of jobs.

“We, the cement manufacturers, demand that the Minister revokes this permit not because we are preventing competition but the manner that it was issued violates the procedures as enshrined in the L.I.” he said.

The association has therefore appealed to government agencies, including Ghana Revenue Authority (Customs Division); Ghana Ports & Harbours Authority, Ghana Standards Authority, Ghana Shippers Authority, to investigate the importation of bagged cement from 1st August 2016 before clearance.

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