Imports of cement clinker, stones soar amidst construction boom

In contrast to a slump in imports, especially luxury goods, due to import curbs amid the prevailing dollar crisis, there has been a 5% rise in the import of cement clinker through Chattogram port during fiscal 2022-23, maintaining its position as the leading imported commodity.

Apart from cement clinker, broken or crushed stones – an essential material used in the construction sector – registered an impressive 80% increase in ports in the past fiscal year, according to Chattogram Customs House.

Industry insiders attribute this growth in imports of these items to the flourishing construction industry in the country and the government’s extensive infrastructure development projects.

Also on the list of import goods which saw an uptick in import in FY23 is high-speed diesel, which is normally used as a fuel in medium and high-speed compression ignition engines in commercial vehicles, stationary diesel engines, locomotives, pumps, etc.

Data obtained from Chattogram Customs House indicates that the import of cement clinker rose by 7.74 lakh tonnes to reach 1.77 crore tonnes in FY23, resulting in a revenue increase of Tk381 crore for the country’s premier customs station.

Broken or crushed stones and high-speed diesel imports saw an upsurge of 53.6 lakh tonnes and 11.8 lakh tonnes, respectively, in the previous year. Revenue collections from these two products also rose significantly, amounting to Tk626 crore and Tk2,949 crore, respectively.

Zahir Uddin Ahmed, vice president of the Bangladesh Cement Manufacturers Association and managing director of Confidence Cement, however, said the import of cement clinker has been less compared to the demand due to the dollar crisis. Had the situation been normal, the import of clinker would have been higher, he added.

“The infrastructure development of the country is constantly increasing. Mega development projects are being implemented. Therefore, the import of cement clinker is increasing every year.”

Demand for cement clinker increases 7%-8% annually, thanks to a burgeoning construction sector and implementation of government mega projects in the country, he added.

Customs data show that the other four products that made into the list of the five highest imported goods in terms of volume in FY23 besides cement clinker are broken or crushed stones (1.22 crore tonnes), slag sand (51.27 lakh tonnes), high-speed diesel oil (45.44 lakh tonnes), and coal (42.26 lakh tonnes).

Meanwhile, the five import goods which yielded the highest revenue in the last fiscal year are high-speed diesel oil with Tk6,762 crore, other fuel oils Tk4,184 crore, cement clinker Tk2,740 crore, broken or crushed stones Tk1,312 crore, and petroleum oil with Tk1,132 crore.

In terms of quantity, the top five products imported through Chittagong port in fiscal 2021-22 were cement clinker (1.69 crore tonnes), VAT-registered manufactured raw materials (1 crore tonnes), broken or crushed stones (69 lakh tonnes), ferrous waste and scrap (49.8 lakh tonnes), and other fuel oil furnace oil (45.6 lakh tonnes).

Regarding revenue, the top five products in FY22 were other fuel oil and furnace oil (Tk5,728 crore), high-speed diesel oil (Tk3,814 crore), cement clinker (Tk2,353 crore), hot rolled (Tk1,242 crore), and palm oil (Tk1,203 crore), according to Chattogram customs.

It is worth mentioning that cement clinker was also the most imported product in FY21, with 1.88 crore tonnes being imported through Chattogram port. This was followed by broken or crushed stones (93.72 lakh tonnes), manufactured raw materials (58 lakh tonnes), natural gas (57 lakh tonnes), and slag sand (45.5 lakh tonnes).

In FY21, the highest revenue-generating products were high-speed diesel oil (Tk3889 crore), other fuel oil furnace oil (Tk2,703 crore), natural gas (Tk2,400 crore), cement clinker (Tk2,282 crore), and palm oil (Tk1,068 crore).

Chattogram port handles approximately 92% of the country’s import and export trade. Chattogram Customs House is responsible for the customs clearance of goods arriving through Chittagong Port.

Additionally, goods are imported through various land ports, including Mongla Port, Payra Port, and Dhaka Airport. These goods are cleared through the respective customs houses or customs stations associated with each port.

According to data from the National Board of Revenue, apart from Chattogram port, cement clinker is also imported through other ports.

In the January-June period of 2023, 1,144.86 tonnes of imported cement clinker, valued at Tk7,481.4 crore, were released through Chattogram Customs House, Mongla Customs House, Dhaka Customs House, and Dhaka Bond Commissionerate.

In 2022, total 2,328.17 crore tonnes of cement clinker worth Tk13,407 crore were imported through these customs stations.

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Iram Hoque

Mohd. Iramul Hoque (Iram) completed his bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering in 2018 from Purdue University.

He joined Deloitte Consulting LLP as a Consulting Analyst based out of New York City having previously worked in similar roles at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP & Landis+Gyr.

Iram left consulting and returned to Bangladesh to take up the family business. Realizing the opportunity in the capital market in Bangladesh, Iram worked relentlessly to found Columbia Shares & Securities Ltd in 2021.

Md Saiful Hoque

Md. Saiful Hoque received his bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from Columbia University in 1986 followed by a master’s degree from Texas A&M University in 1988. Upon completion of his Graduate Degree, he joined Gulf Interstate Engineering Company in Houston, USA serving as a Project Engineer.

He returned to Bangladesh in 1992 to join Columbia Enterprise Ltd., the family business of Shipping and Freight Forwarding services. In addition, he has built flourishing businesses manufacturing Garment’s Accessories and Fast-Moving Consumer Goods.