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Editorial comment

Although China is no longer the biggest exporter of cement – that title having fallen to Turkey last year – it remains the world’s largest exporter (and has recently overtaken Japan to become the second biggest economy in the world).

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The difficulty in these times lies in securing a trade balance, given that its export markets are largely debt-ridden. This was the theme of the recent G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors’ Meeting in Paris, France, where the plan was to come up with a list of indicators that would help to measure global imbalances, with the aim of helping to stabilise global growth. The idea is to establish the gaps – i.e. surpluses – that might usher in another global economic downturn. The focus of discussion was over what those indicators might be. China – whether the most outspoken, or merely reported as such – was unwilling to have its large currency reserves and real exchange rate as indicators, arguing that emerging economies need a buffer to guard against shocks. Whether or not one takes this into the equation, the reality is that China is fighting measures that would start it on the path to currency appreciation, thereby decreasing the competitiveness of its exports. At a time when China’s export markets are still reeling from recession, the fallout of an increase in the value of the Yuan would be significant. In any case, as is often the way with such meetings, progress was made towards progress being made, with a promise of further discussions in April. The indicators have been agreed upon – currency reserves not among them – and next on the agenda is ‘indicative guidelines’. One step at a time…

For those whose interest lies specifically in the Chinese cement industry, this issue includes a special report from the China Cement Association, which looks at how the industry has changed in the 15 years since the government’s development strategy was introduced. This month’s Regional Report has been put together to coincide with this year’s CEMENTTECH Conference and Exhibition, which is taking place next month and where this issue will be distributed. Representatives from World Cement will be in attendance at the exhibition, so please do stop by booth 12#031 and say hello if you are attending. Also in this issue, we have a range of articles on the topic of alternative fuels, a feature on the role of consultants, and a variety of technical articles and case studies looking at XRF/XRD analysis and process control and automation. It all begins on page 22 with the World Cement Interview, in which Paul Maxwell-Cook talks to this year’s IEEE-IAS/PCA Chair and Vice Chair.

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