Post floods, traders want low-priced Pakistani cement on LoC barter list

SRINAGAR: A cement bag manufactured in Pakistan, if allowed to enter Kashmir markets via Line of Control trading link, will cost only Rs 250 and can significantly reduce the cost of the flood-hit reconstruction works, a section of traders said.
The current retail market price of locally-produced 50kg cement bag is Rs 370-375.
The only hitch is that Pakistani cement is not on the list of the 21 commodities currently exchanged by traders of the two Kashmirs using barter.
Sardar Kishan, general secretary of the Poonch-based LoC Traders Association, told Kashmir Reader that the September flood should prompt the two sides to strengthen trade ties.
“This can be done by including cement in the list of trading items,” he said.
According to Singh, traders’ demand for expanding the trade items has been pending with New Delhi since long and cement was a priority item in the proposed bigger list. He said the traders were expecting the new list will be cleared keeping in view the devastation caused by the floods.
“Pakistani cement is of top quality. Pakistan-administered Kashmir traders are keen to trade it in exchange for iron bars,” he said.
Secretary of the Salamabad-Chakoti Traders Association, Hilal Ahmad Turki said they were lobbying with both governments to allow the materials that can help in post-flood rebuilding efforts.
Turki downplayed fears that imports will hit the local cement industry, saying Pakistani cement will augment the local supply.
According to All Pakistan Cement Manufacturing Association, cement exports to India last fiscal stood at 677,305 metric tonnes.
The local manufacturers, however, are averse to import of Pakistani cement.
According to Altaf Ahmad Tramboo, marketing director TCI Max Cement, the LoC trade shall be geared toward boosting the supply of raw materials, like coal, to the Valley so that cost of manufacturing cement locally comes down, rather than importing the finished product from Pakistan.
“Tax exemptions on the products traded via LoC will make raw materials from the other side cheaper and lower our production costs,” he said.