Pakistan looks set to become a major investor in Tajikistan’s cement industry, with plans to build a large cement plant in the Central Asian country. On June 10, Tajik ambassador to Islamabad, Zabaydullo Zubaydov, discussed the details of the deal with the head of the Pakistani investments board, Saleem Mandviwalla. According to the Tajik foreign ministry, Mandviwalla informed the Tajik ambassador that Pakistan’s president Asif Ali Zardari and prime-minister Yousuf Raza Gilani instructed the investments board to provide a loan to Dushanbe for building a joint cement plant in Tajikistan. A group of Pakistani experts will soon arrive in Tajikistan to discuss the location of the facility and its production capacity with their Tajik colleagues.
The principal agreement on building a joint cement plant was reached during the first business forum of Tajik and Pakistani entrepreneurs in Karachi in March 2011. The forum was attended by Tajik president Emomali Rahmon who was on a state visit to Pakistan. Pakistani experts have suggested that the joint plant might have a production capacity of 1 million metric tons of cement a year. Islamabad hopes that the joint production facility will help Pakistani cement producers to get a better access to markets in Central Asia and Eastern Europe.
Tajikistan has one large and several smaller cement plants, which produced about 290,000 metric tons of cement in 2010. The country’s annual demand for cement is presently estimated at 1 million to 1.5 million tons and is likely to increase, boosted by massive energy and infrastructure projects. Unable to produce enough cement at home, Tajikistan relies on imports from abroad, mostly from Pakistan and Iran. In February, a private Iranian company signed an agreement with Dushanbe, pledging to invest US$500 million in building a coal-driven cement plant in southern Tajikistan. The plant is expected to produce about 2 million tons of cement a year.
With support from Tehran and Islamabad, Dushanbe might soon realize its long-cherished ambition of becoming a major cement exporter.