Cash flow issues noted in Vietnamese cement sector

Cash flow issues have been noted as a risk for local cement producers struggling to create enough revenue to continue operations. Revenue is reliant on output, local consumption and exports but these are all falling with raw material costs rising and no improvement forecast for the real estate in the short-term, according to the Việt Nam News newspaper. Examples of cement companies reporting a loss include Quang Ninh Construction and Cement in the fourth quarter of 2022. An estimate by the Quang Ninh Tax Department also showed that the company owed more than US$4.m in July 2021, making it the largest debtor in the province’s building materials industry. Quang Son Cement, based in Thanh Hoa province, also reported an after-tax loss of US$13.5m in 2022.

Data from the Vietnam Association for Building Materials (VABM) shows that the cement industry’s production capacity reached 114Mt/yr in 2022, with an estimated output of 93Mt in 2022, giving it a capacity utilisation rate of 82%. However, domestic consumption accounts for around 60 –65Mt/yr, with exports accounting for the remainder. Information from the General Statistics Office reveal that local cement production fell by just under 10% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2023.

Thai Duy Sam, vice president and general secretary of VABM, told Vietnam Investment Review “In recent years, the cost of input materials, particularly coal, has increased multiple times. It has an effect on both production and output.” He added, “Currently, several significant corporations continue to ensure production. However, small enterprises with production lines that can produce 1 – 2t/day face both manufacturing and consumption challenges.” He continued by saying that the production lines of older plants have high depreciation costs and greater heat and electricity consumption than modern units. In addition, these smaller and older plants often lack a trademark, which can make the sales process harder. Commenting on the real estate market, Sam noted complicated payment processes can cause problems with both construction companies and building material suppliers. He cited examples of how the payment for the building materials used to build the Dong Tru and Vinh Tuy bridges had still not been settled 10 years after completion.