x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Iran to boost cement exports to Gulf

Iran will ramp up production of cement to take advantage of the regional infrastructure boom.

A worker unloads cement blocks from a truck at a construction site in Dubai.
A worker unloads cement blocks from a truck at a construction site in Dubai.

Iran is preparing to become a major exporter of cement, and sees the Middle East as its key target market, according to a senior official of the Gulf nation. The country produces 62 million tonnes of cement a year, and plans to add a further 32 million tonnes to its capacity over the next six years. "We will be a major exporter of cement from next year," said Mohammad Hossein Basiri, deputy minister of industry at the Ministry of Industry in Iran, at the Meed Middle East Cement and Concrete conference last week.

The Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan are seen as key markets because of their proximity, low delivery costs and future construction growth. In May last year the Iranian government banned producers from exporting cement because of concerns over a local shortage. However, newer plants are now allowed to sell a proportion of their production overseas to cover bank repayments and other debt, but have to pay an export tax of US$100 (Dh367) per tonne, which was imposed by the government in July this year.

While local demand remains high, the government is expected to ease restrictions and lift the export tax early next year, allowing producers to sell their surplus to boom markets to the Middle East and elsewhere. agiuffrida@thenational.ae