CONCRETE STEPS

Dominican Republic 2015 | REAL ESTATE & CONSTRUCTION | FOCUS: CEMENT

One of the strongest and best established sectors, the cement industry is thriving, not least in the export markets.

The Dominican Republic is one of the fastest growing economies in the region, with a constant GDP growth averaged at the rate of 5.5 % over the last 20 years. The sector enjoying the most impressive, robust growth in the Dominican Republic is tourism—only in 2013, the country received 4.7 million visitors. The Dominican Republic is currently undergoing several development projects due to its National Development Strategy 2010-30 and the strategic vision of becoming a regional hub in the Caribbean.

The Dominican Republic's cement industry is one of the most consolidated sectors in the country, contributing $110 million to the local economy, and creating more than 35,000 indirect and direct jobs. The industry is very competitive with 7 cement producers that have combined installed capacity of 7 Mt. The main contributors to the growth and development of the local cement industry are: Cementos Cibao, DOMICEM, CEMEX, ARGOS, and Cemento Panam. The work and dedication of these companies allowed the Dominican Republic to become the number one exporter of cement in the Caribbean, with output for sale abroad amounting to approximately 1.4 Mt.

Currently, approximately 30% of the Dominican Republic's cement is dedicated for export. The Dominican cement primarily heads to Jamaica, the Virgin Islands, Guyana, and Haiti, which is still undergoing the reconstruction process after the earthquake that struck the country in 2010. According to Julissa A. Báez, Executive Director of the Dominican Association of Cement Producers (ADOCEM), “the Dominican Republic has the necessity to export more, because the storage capacity in the country is huge, compared to larger countries, such as Mexico or Brazil. The Dominican Republic has a capacity of 7 million tons, and therefore we need to export this excess and that is why we are always on the lookout for new markets."

The local demand for cement has also grew in the past years. In 2013 the cement industry has noted local sales of 3 Mt, reflecting a significant increase of about 16% in reference to 2012. According to Julissa A. Báez, the increase was led mostly by government's investment in building new schools, “with government investment we have noticed a big change, and that is because the construction sector is very reliant on government decisions to invest in infrastructure projects".

ADOCEM was founded to regulate the sector, disseminate good practices, conduct research and training programs, and promote improved equipment in the Dominican Republic's cement industry. Over the years, ADOCEM has managed to encourage the modernization and expansion of several local cement plants, which now have a combined installed capacity of 7 Mt, exceeding the local demand by 60%.

The cement industry strongly supports the development of the construction sector in the country and remains its main driver. ADOCEM is working intensively on promoting the use of cement. According to ADOCEM's president, Carlos González, “it's the best time for the country to increase its cement consumption, since its price is 40% lower than in the entire region, resulting from greater competition, since Dominican Republic boasts more producers than Mexico." Currently a bag of cement in the Dominican Republic costs between RD$255 and RD$260, including tax, in comparison to RD$310-RD$315 in 2012. The Dominican Republic's cement market's high volume means that cement producers have to compete in a dynamic manner, not only in prices but also in quality.

The Dominican Republic is currently a country of great opportunities in the construction sector. The country has 1 million-unit deficit of social housing, increasing by 30,000 each year. Cement companies have already responded to the challenge, significantly increasing the capacity and lowering the prices of cement.

Currently local roads are paved with asphalt, but due to Dominican Republic's geographical location and weather conditions, the roads last only three to four years. As ADOCEM intensively promotes the usage of cement instead of the lower-quality local alternative, asphalt, investors can expect to see more activity in the cement and road construction industry in the near future.