After much anticipation, 2021 has finally replaced one of the most challenging years ever witnessed. However, the new year has brought a worsening situation across the globe, with new virus strains found in various countries. Meanwhile, vaccines have been approved and are now being rolled out, bringing hope of an end to the pandemic.
In the Middle East, inoculations are already taking place across the region. Most of the approved vaccines are available across almost all countries here. Having begun its programme in December. the UAE has administered over 2 million doses so far despite the country’s recent surge in COVID cases. The government has set a target of vaccinating over 50% of the population by March, having already approved the use of the Pfizer and Sinopharm vaccines, as well as announcing the emergency use of Sputnik V. This will serve as an economic booster for the UAE economy, especially in Dubai where the postponed EXPO 2020 is now anticipated for October 2021. Saudi Arabia recently approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines, adding to last month’s Pfizer approval.
Last year ended with positive sentiment in the non-ferrous markets, with more volumes being supplied and exported. Copper has become oversupplied and stocks are high at final destinations, resulting in lower prices being offered and creating plenty of pressure to find homes for spot offers. Another major challenge facing exporters is shipment delays owing to container shortages, disrupted vessel schedules and recent severe weather conditions in the northern parts of the region, leading to higher costs and major supply chain disturbance.
In Saudi Arabia, new restrictions on scrap exports were imposed earlier this month, with all exporters needing to obtain pre-approvals from the Ministry of Environment for all shipments out of the country. Initially, this was to apply only to aluminium scrap but was then extended to all scrap metals. This is causing major delays to shipments out of the biggest market in the region.
Aboura Metals (ARE), Board Member of the BIR Non-Ferrous Metals Division