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Foreign exports hurting local brick kilns

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Rows of stacked bricks at a brick factory in Kandal province. Heng Chivoan

Foreign exports hurting local brick kilns

Brick kiln owners have complained about falling prices due to the rise in imports from neighbouring countries amid the boom in the construction sector.

Preap Koy, the owner of a brick kiln in Kandal province, told The Post on Monday that 10,000 bricks were now worth $270 – down from $380 last year.

He said he sold between 500,000 and 600,000 bricks annually.

“The price of bricks is falling because imports from Vietnam are impacting our brick market so we can’t sell well and gradually lose out.

“We produce bricks every day just to create jobs for our workers. We call on stakeholders to help explore more opportunities for local brick makers and reduce imports, otherwise, our people will be unemployed,” he said.

Teav Kraing, a brick-processing owner in Kandal province also said there had been a decline in price since July last year. He said he was forced to sell 10,000 bricks at just $170, which is over $100 less than the usual price.

He produces between 100,000 and 150,000 bricks a month.

“The fall in price is due to many buildings being constructed in Sihanoukville province by Chinese, who then left Cambodia once the government banned online gambling. So there is little demand for our bricks,” he said.

Po Eavkong the CEO & Founder of Advance Real Estate Co Ltd, also attributed the decline in the price of domestic bricks and the lack of a brick market to imports from Thailand and Vietnam.

Such imports, he said, had impacted domestic producers who cannot compete with them on price and quality.

“Demand in the brick market is still growing as the construction sector continues to boom. But imported bricks have taken our domestic market share and hurt prices,” he said.

The Ministry of Industry and Handicraft’s Department of SMEs director Chhea Layhy said the ministry has not been informed of brick kiln owners being impacted by imports from Vietnam.

“We have not received information on the import of bricks. I think the decline in price is not yet a serious problem. We can even produce bricks from cement and sell these cheaply, so this may be a factor contributing to a fall in brick prices,” he said.

Layhy said there were 87 local brick enterprises employing a total of 1,061 workers as of 2015.

The government has approved more than $9 billion this year for capital investment in the construction sector, a nearly 80 per cent increase over last year’s figures.

Most of the growth was attributed to projects in Sihanoukville, according to data from the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction.

A Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction report shows that last year, it approved a total of 4,446 construction projects compared to 2018 when there were just 2,867 approved.

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