A positive trend can be seen within the Benelux market as far as COVID is concerned: cases are declining in all three countries and the numbers vaccinated have been growing quickly. As a result, governments are looking to open up society once again and have come up with what is referred to as a Summer Plan which could mark a positive step back towards our pre-COVID lives.
Business-wise, government officials are talking about allowing employees to go back to their work/offices for one day a week, while travelling might become less of a challenge. Of course, this is on condition that the positive COVID trends continue.
Meanwhile, markets are continuing to rise. Metal units remain expensive at these levels, and financial situations as well as credit worthiness come into play again when making business decisions. These conditions are impacting some trade routes. At present in the Benelux market, less material seems to be finding its way into the yards and this might become a concern in the long run given the heavy sales of recent weeks when markets began to head sharply higher.
On the aluminium side, the car industry appears to be feeling the impact of challenges surrounding the availability of electronic components. With these proving to be not as easily accessible, car industry demand for aluminium seems to be off.
It is unclear whether the Benelux market will see the summer clearance which normally takes place during the months of May and June, immediately before the summer holidays.
Metallo Belgium N.V., Board Member of the BIR Non-Ferrous Metals Division