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In terms of COVID, all parts of the Benelux have been progressing in the right direction, with fewer restrictions and more openness as a result. Particularly liberating to many people has been the announcement that the wearing of face masks is no longer mandatory in most places and that events with larger crowds can once again take place. In this context, BIR’s gathering in Brussels later this month will be very welcome after the series of online meetings since last year.

Most companies are now welcoming employees back into their offices; businesses have been asked to make home-office working part of a more structured approach. Combined with these developments is the easing of restrictions on visits to yards and companies.

On the business front, there have been some changes within the Benelux market. Contrary to previous years and as mentioned in the previous Mirror, summer activity was much slower. By September, activity levels started to pick up again in the various markets, mainly driven and supported by strong local demand. Exports to Asia slowed a little, with the exception of China where some supply shortages are still being seen as a result of the new import policy. Other, COVID-related hurdles such as logistics and semiconductor availability have not eased. Energy supply and costs might also become a problem in the not-too-distant future.