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Editorial comment

In this, the last issue of the year, we feature a regional report from Southeast Asia. This is a little prelude, really, to the larger feature on the region that is coming up in our April 2012 issue to coincide with the AFCM Conference, taking place just outside Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The last of these conferences, held in Danang, Vietnam, in April 2010 was very well attended – not surprising given the incredible growth in the Vietnamese cement industry. The article from the VNCA, beginning on page 39 of this issue, tells how that growth has exceeded demand, but this excess capacity – already curbed by the Vietnamese government – is unlikely to be an ongoing problem in a country with much development still to undertake and export markets to reach.

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With all the doom and gloom coming out of the eurozone, and with the continuing stagnation in the US, it is always nice to be able to point to other markets and say ‘Well it’s not all bad news’. In October, Indonesia’s cement sales were up by more than 20% y/y. This was actually a slow down from September sales, which were up by more than 50% y/y. The Indonesian Cement Association has recently downgraded growth estimates for the year, from 10% to a very healthy 8%, but still, that’s a figure that will be the envy of the suffering mature markets. The article beginning on page 32 examines the success of the Indonesian cement industry, and compares it with the similar potential in the Philippines.

As mentioned previously in this column, there has to be more than just potential for a market to grow. Just as the design capacity of a kiln alone does not ensure a plant’s production rate – nor can it affect demand – market growth is intertwined with myriad other factors beyond potential, such as: government policy, finance, national stability and security (as evidenced in last month’s article ‘Consulting in the Face of Danger’), available expertise and raw materials, and of course the necessary infrastructure. Sometimes this last one seems like the clichéd catch-22 situation, where you can’t develop infrastructure without cement and you can’t build a cement plant where there is insufficient infrastructure to support it. Cement producers are able to take matters into their own hands to a certain extent, and there are numerous examples of companies building their own captive power supply and incorporating plans for a rail or barge link into the development of their plants – many of which have been featured in World Cement.

We really appreciate our readers’ support in keeping World Cement current and relevant, and making sure we fulfil our objective of sharing best practice and the latest market and technical developments with the international cement industry. Thanks also to our advertisers for their ongoing support. In 2012, we plan to bring you even more of the same, with extra focus on the areas that you tell us are the most important to you.  If you think we’re missing anything, please just drop me a line on the address below. Season’s Greetings to you all; see you in 2012!

Katherine Markham, Editor