Ceramics Industry in Pakistan

Ceramics may be defined as any inorganic, nonmetallic solids processed or used at high temperatures. They are one of the three most important types of engineering materials, the other two are metals and plastics. Ceramics include such everyday materials as brick, cement, glass, and porcelain. Minerals used in making ceramic products include clay, feldspar, silica and talc.

Global Perspective of Ceramic Industry

World exports of ceramic products were US $ 10.8 billion in the year 1999. Exports have steadily decreased over the period 1995-99 at an annual average rate of –6%. USA was the largest importer in 1999 with 19% of total global imports of Ceramics, while Germany was second with 11% share.

Ceramic Industry of Pakistan

Pakistan’s exports of ceramics have been insignificant. In 1999 exports of all ceramic products were $2.36 million. Pakistan’s imports of ceramic products in the year 1999 were US $ 18.8 million. 41% of total imports consisted of ceramic tiles. Mostly the ceramics industry caters to the domestic demand of numerous ceramic products including sanitary ware, floor tiles, insulators and refractories, etc.. The growth in ceramics sector is heavily dependent upon the growth of the construction sector, which in Pakistan’s case has passed through an erratic growth phase during the last decade.

Ceramics can be divided into ceramic tiles, Tableware, Refractories, Sanitary ware and Electric Insulators. The production of insulators and tiles is entirely concentrated in the organized sector, and are fully documented. However, Sanitary ware, Tableware and refractories are primarily in the unorganized sector and thus the statistics provided are estimates.

Ceramic Tiles

The world export trend for ceramic tiles has decreased by 0.8% over the period 1995-99. However, exports of ceramic tiles in 1999 had 52% of total exports of ceramics, which indicates that ceramic tiles have been the most important of ceramic products in the world market.

The major exporters of tiles include Italy, which had a share of 43% in 1999 and Spain, which had a share of approximately 29%. Others included Turkey, with 3.48% and Germany with 3.16%. Notably, Mexico’s exports have increased by 83% over the period 1995-99. Main importers of ceramic tiles include USA with 21% of the total imports in 1999 and Germany, which had 13% share. France had a share of 11% in 1999.

Pakistan’s imports of ceramic tiles have increased at an annual average rate of 82% over the period 1995-1999. Major trading partner of Pakistan in ceramic tiles includes Spain, which accounted for 69% of total imports in 1999. Others include Dubai with 10% share and Italy with 8% share.


Tableware, which includes kitchenware, had experienced a fractional decrease of 0.58% in world exports over the period 1995-1999. This is the second major category in ceramic products and had a share of 20% of total exports of ceramic products in 1999.

Major exporters of tableware include China, which had a share of approximately 35% in 1999 and Germany, which had a share of 16%. Important to note here is that in line with the global trend of decreasing exports, all the major players in the tableware market have had a decline in export shares except China which had experienced an annual average increase of 11%.

World imports of tableware have decreased by 12% over the period 1995-99. The average rate of decrease is 3.23% per year. Countries tend to produce ceramic products for their own domestic consumption, which is why imports and exports show a declining trend. Major importing countries include USA with 19%, Germany with 9% and Italy with 8%.

In 1999 Pakistan had a share of 0.02% of total world exports of tableware. The value of exports was $0.44 million.

Sanitary Ware

This category is the only one which showed some signs of growth. World exports of sanitary ware have increased by 7.4% over the period 1995-99. The average growth rate is 2% per year.

Major exporters of sanitary ware include Germany, which had a share of 13% in 1999 with exports of $117 million. Spain and France had a share of 9% with exports of $87 million. Total imports of sanitary ware in 1999 were $911 million. Major importers of sanitary ware included Germany with 17% and USA with 11% of total imports. Other key players in the import market include Spain, France and Canada.

Pakistan’s exports of sanitary ware peaked at $205,000 in 1998-99 and increased by 48.5% over the period 1995-2000. Pakistan exports to Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Oman i.e. Middle Eastern countries. Pakistan received contracts for exports of sanitary ware to Iraq as well as some African countries through International donor agencies, which is why exports have shown an upward trend.

Pakistan’s imports of sanitary ware have increased by 21% over the period 1995-2000. Pakistan imports from Spain, the United Kingdom and Thailand.


Total world exports of refractories have decreased by 26% over the period 1995-99 i.e. from US$ 2,252 million to US$ 1,672 million. Major exporters of refractories are Germany with a share of 26% and France with a share of 12% in 1999.All the major players exports have decreased over this time period, except China which had shown a remarkable increase of 100%.

Main importers of refractories in the world were USA with 17% of total imports of refractories and Canada with 7% of total imports. Important to note here is that Germany’s imports have decreased by 41% over the period 1995-99.

Pakistan’s exports of refractories were $0.04 million in 1999, which were 0.0023% of total exports of refractories. Pakistan’s imports in 1999 of refractories were $4.06 million, which were 22% of total imports of Pakistan of ceramics.

Electric Insulators

This is the smallest category in ceramic products by value of exports. Total world exports of electric insulators have decreased by 21% over the period 1995-99 and had a value of $411 million. Main exporters of electric insulators are Japan, which had a share of 36% of total exports in 1999 and USA, which had a share of 14%. Germany’s exports have decreased by 43% during this period. Total world imports if insulators in 1999 were $404 million. Main importers of electric insulators are USA with 16% of the total import share. Imports of Mexico have increased by approximately 200% during this period.

Total exports of electric insulators in 1999 were $ 411 million, out of which Pakistan had a share of $1.68 million which was 0.41% of total global exports. The global trend indicated that 72% of total exports of ceramic products were concentrated in tiles and tableware. Pakistan’s exports, on the other hand, showed that 70% of total ceramic products were concentrated in electric insulators. Most of the production has catered to local demand.


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