In Latin America, from January to October 2019, cement consumption recorded an increase in select markets, according to CW Research’s Cement Country Market Data . While cement demand declined in Argentina, it rose in Brazil and Colombia.
“An improving macroeconomic scenario in combination with low inflation has proved to be the impetus driving the cement sector since the beginning of 2019, by sustaining the growth of real estate market. In line with this year positive economic growth, infrastructure revitalization, a key item on the government agenda, will further help drive cement consumption numbers in 2020,” said Carolina Pereira, business analyst at CW Group.
Between January and October, cement demand in Argentina topped 9 million tons, a mild contraction compared to the prior-year period. Rampant inflation and the strong devaluation of the Argentine peso against the U.S. dollar has paralyzed the infrastructure sector and discouraged consumers from taking housing loans. Consequently, construction activity tumbled during the first half of 2019, according to AFCP, Argentina’s official statistics body.
In Brazil, cement consumption exceeded 3%, in the first 10 months of the year, as opposed to January-October 2018. Demand for the building material has declined for four consecutive years and, despite the latest upturn, it is still far from the pre-crisis peak of 2014. Construction has recovered thanks to an improvement in the housing segment, supported by the “Minha Casa, Minha Vida” program, yet infrastructure sector has yet to witness the same level of investment.
Between January and October 2019, cement consumption in Colombia surpassed 10 million tons, a robust increase compared to the same period in 2018. In the first half of the year, domestic construction activity showed mixed signs, recording an increase in infrastructure spending, whereas the same metric for other construction projects fell on a yearly basis. This discrepancy denotes the government’s effort to sustain construction activity, given the sector’s disproportional importance for the Colombian economy.