Cement companies need to cooperate with, instead of undercutting each other, to liquidate their large inventories through exports, the Ministry of Construction has said.

The inventories are the biggest challenge facing the industry, it said.

There is little cooperation among cement exporters, it said, pointing out that while the Vietnam Cement Association (VCA) recommended a common export price for members, some still export at lower prices, badly affecting the rest.

Deputy Minister of Construction Nguyen Tran Nam said the VCA's members should exchange information about the volume and price of the cement and clinker they export.

He also suggested setting up an association of cement and clinker exporters.

The ministry will soon discuss this with the VCA as well as exporters, he said.

Earlier, the ministries of Construction and Transport signed a memorandum to increase the use of cement in transport projects around the country.

To help cement companies, many of whom are struggling financially, the construction ministry has proposed a restructure through measures like equitisation.

The industry needs to tweak its development plans based on demand, Nam said.

There are eight cement and clinker exporters in Vietnam , six of them domestic firms.

In recent months inventories have been rising as a result of low demand and, according to critics, the industry's poor planning.

There had been 2.8 million tonnes by the end of June, and the VCA forecasts the figure for the whole year to be around 6 million tonnes, a year-on-year increase of 23 percent.

Demand in the first half was at around 28 million tonnes, according to the Ministry of Finance.

The country's annual output is 62-64 million tonnes.-VNA