While Hartuv Cement is fighting for its existence in the face of imports of cheap cement from Turkey and Greece, cement monopoly Nesher Israel Cement Enterprises is also feeling the pressure. Last month, Nesher laid off 20 workers at its Haifa site, about one-third of its workforce there, because of a decline in production.
Sources in the cement industry told "Globes" that Nesher was still undergoing downsizing, and that there might be further moves at its main plant in Ramla. The sources attribute Nesher's downsizing to the import of cement sold in the Israeli market at dumping prices.
Six months ago, Nesher CEO Moshe Kaplinsky said in an extended interview with Globes' "G" magazine, "From a market share of 75% we have fallen to 65%. If you ask me, I think we are getting close to 60%, and we have had to cut prices." Nesher's market share is currently estimated at 60%.
Commenting on the extensive imports of cement from Turkey and Greece, Kaplinsky said, "I fear that we shall yet reach a situation in which President Erdogan of Turkey will decide whether Israel builds a wall on its border with Egypt or renovates runways at Israel Air Force bases. He can decide to impose a cement embargo on us whenever he wants."
Nesher supported Hartuv Cement's petition to the Commissioner of Trade Levies in the Ministry of Economy and Industry for the imposition of a dumping levy to protect local production from cheap imports. Industry sources say that some of the decisions that are currently adversely affecting Hartuv Cement stem from the unwillingness of government ministries, chiefly the Ministry of Finance, to indirectly benefit Nesher, which for many years enjoyed complete control of Israel's cement market.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on November 27, 2018
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