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Sun 23 Mar 2008 05:44 PM

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Growth in cement imports plummets

Growth in imports into Dubai slumped 60% last year, down to 73.6% from 184% in 2006, Dubai World says.

Growth in cement imports into Dubai slumped 60% last year, state-owned conglomerate Dubai World said on Sunday, without giving a reason for the drop.

Dubai World said cement imports shot up 73.6% to 2.960 million tonnes in 2007, but the growth fell well short of the 184% increase in imports seen in 2006.

In 2006 cement imports into the emirate rose to 1.704 million tonnes, while in 2005 imports stood at 600,000 tonnes, the company said.

The total value of Dubai’s cement imports during 2007 was around 672 million UAE dirhams ($182.98 million), compared to 374 million dirhams in 2006, it said.

Dubai World said China was the biggest exporter of cement to Dubai last year, with 1.9 million tonnes amounting to 399 million dirhams, followed by India with 553,000 tonnes worth 134 million dirhams.

It said the other top cement trading partners in 2007 were Pakistan (255,000 tonnes worth 71 million dirhams), Thailand (148,000 tonnes worth 33 million dirhams) and Indonesia (71,000 tonnes worth 20.7 million dirhams).

Dubai earlier this month lifted customs duties on imported cement and steel in an effort to stabilise the price of raw materials and rein in inflation in the construction industry.

The cost of raw materials has risen dramatically in recent weeks, placing huge pressure on developers already struggling to finish projects on time and on budget.

The price of cement rose by 25% in the first week of March as oil, needed to manufacture the material, soared to record highs above $110.

UAE suppliers of ready-mix concrete have also said they are struggling to keep up with demand and warned construction projects risk being delayed further.

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