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December is a month of fireworks for everyone but, above all, for domestic non-ferrous metals operators who, after a year spent chasing the LME and managing moments of euphoria as well as discouragement, are already thinking about projects and initiatives to be implemented in 2022.

Optimism is not lacking, as always, despite the uncertainty created by the daily increase in COVID infections. There is a confidence, however, that the precautions taken and public common sense will ensure this fourth wave is overcome too.

There are several reasons to be satisfied. Notably, exports in the first nine months of 2021 were 20.1% higher than for the same period in 2020; even more importantly, growth was at 5.8% compared to 2019, which was the last very positive year. Growth in exports across 2021 as a whole is expected to be around 11.3%. Evidently, Italy is proving to be very reactive and dynamic thanks to the managerial skills and competitiveness of the players involved. Everything will depend on the ability to maintain a higher growth rate in the three years from 2022 to 2024 than for the 2017-2019 period.

Another reason for satisfaction is that, by 2025, the labour market is expected to need 2.2 million new workers, with 63% of the total manpower needs expressed by businesses for the next four years (including turnover) required to be capable of managing solutions and developing eco-sustainable strategies.

Unfortunately, there are also elements of concern. If the government does not intervene by January 1 2022, gas and electricity bills will undergo increases of, respectively, 50% and 17% (and perhaps even 25%), thus heaping a significant burden on all families.

We look to 2022 with great hopes while remaining conscious of the fact that the pandemic has taught us so many lessons and, perhaps, has helped us to improve as people.