At the time of writing, most Benelux members are enjoying or will soon be enjoying their well-deserved holidays; for most, this will mean choosing between another staycation or taking the risk of flying to other parts of Europe, knowing that the COVID-related colour codes attributed to countries or parts of countries can change daily.
In the previous report, it was noted that most of the COVID numbers had been moving in the right direction, resulting in fewer restrictive rules and regulations. Roughly 46% of the population has been fully vaccinated in Belgium, 43% in the Netherlands and, according to latest indications, 42% in Luxembourg. Despite this progress, some infection numbers in the Benelux have recently started to head in the wrong direction once again, and so it is clear that the fight is not yet over. We still have to remain cautious.
Travel restrictions between the countries remain in place and, on top of this, the region has had to deal with some serious flooding over recent days. The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Austria have all suffered heavy rainfall, causing floods, landslides and major damage to housing and industrial facilities.
Given these developments, it will not come as a surprise that business is a tad slower for the time being. The main focus is on ferrous scrap, given the higher prices. This, combined with the effect of the higher non-ferrous markets, might be a potential indicator that, for the remainder of the year, business overall could progress at a similar pace to what we are seeing today.
In parallel to this, the downward trend in yard activity levels has continued from previous weeks and, with people off on holiday, this will not improve the situation in the short term. The logistics challenges for exports out of and imports into Benelux have remained unresolved and expensive. In general, local demand for product is unchanged and fairly reasonable, but in the longer run it might become a question of availability as some concerns are emerging over various grades.
Metallo Belgium N.V., Board Member of the BIR Non-Ferrous Metals Division