Saturday 8 August, 2020

Carib Cement looks to new Caricom markets

Caribbean Cement Company (Carib Cement) is actively seeking new markets in Caricom to increase earnings from hard currency sources amid declining local sales due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Cayman Islands, Bahamas and Bermuda are the export markets being eyed by Carib Cement.

“Hopefully we can crystallise some of them before the year-end,” said Carib Cement General Manager Yago Castro.

Speaking at the recent virtual staging of the Mayberry Investors’ Forum, Castro said there is a need to offset the impact of the Jamaican dollar, which was continuously declining in value.

Castro pointed to the “imbalance between Jamaican dollar inflows and US dollar expenses”, stating that the answer is to increase US dollar inflows via exports.

“We are looking to increase exports in [the] second half of the year, Castro said, noting that significant capital upgrades have been made at the company’s Rockfort plant, toward this end.

Carib Cement General Manager Yago Castro

Castro said the volumes of cement produced by the company represents 150 per cent of the needs of the Jamaican market, leaving the company with adequate capacity for new markets.

He said Caribbean Cement's role goes beyond producing cement.

Castro told his audience that cement sales fell by 35 per cent in April, with little recovery in May. He is projecting a fall off of 20 per cent for the remainder of the year.

“We are talking about a very big impact…. We detected this month a slight increase, but we are still managing double-digit declines in the month of May. I am forecasting a 10 to 20 per cent decline in the whole market, for the whole year,” Castro said. 

He added: “We are factoring that the second quarter was pretty normal with [a] decline for the other quarters.”

Castro said, “a little economy around Carib Cement” has been created, with the company listed as essential by the government and has not halted production during the pandemic.

“There are about 500 people entering the plant every day and this does not include other collaborators. We also have 600 local suppliers.”

The general manager said the company will continue to implement rigid safety measures until it can operate under regular conditions when the threat of COVID-19 has passed.

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