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Walking together - in chaos

2022 started on a positive note. Still rebuilding from the destruction caused by COVID, economies and industries were going at full throttle to make up the lost ground. Since last year, the demand revival had been so robust that infrastructure and supply networks often fell short. Global economic growth was 6% in 2021 and had been originally predicted at around 5% for 2022, but the events of the last two months have seen this growth wagon run out of steam, putting it instead on an uncharted, unpredictable course.

Analysts are now predicting less than 3% growth for 2022 but this figure could be pared further based on how events unfold in the coming months. Global foreign currency reserves have already declined this year by around US$ 1 trillion, or 7.8%, to US$ 12 trillion owing to revaluations against a greenback which has undergone an unprecedented rally, perhaps being seen as the safest asset cover now.

Each and every day, markets are acting and reacting wildly to the latest piece of news. Already riled by hyper-volatility in energy supplies, inflationary challenges and political face-offs between major powers, events like “mini-budget” bloopers or the potential credit default swaps of a marquee bank are nudging markets towards boiling point. For our industry, there is clearly too much happening: it’s all too fast to process and to get a clear sense of direction.

To quote Lord Buddha: “Chaos is inherent in all compounded things. Strive on with diligence.”

Until this summer, business conditions for the secondary non-ferrous industry had remained largely secure, with good traction in global trade. However, challenges have started to emanate from the global chaos. Furthermore, countries have begun to be more inward-looking in their policies, sealing off raw material supplies.

Our board has been very vocal about upholding the spirit of free trade and about how restrictive import/export policies for our raw materials work directly against greener ambitions. While the EU debates export restrictions to non-OECD countries, there have been discussions in South Africa and Mexico too about further controls on exports of some categories of scrap. Free markets are the powertrain of our industry, driving sustainability and circularity.

The Non-Ferrous Metals Division’s plenary session at the BIR Convention in Dubai on October 18 has been brilliantly packaged. It will include presentations from two of the largest companies in the Middle East regarding efforts to embed sustainability in their production and new investments in recycling. The guest speakers will be: Fadi Awadhalla, VP Casthouse Operations at Emirates Global Aluminium, which is the world’s largest producer of “premium” aluminium; and Abdullah El Doukhei, Senior Plant Manager at Ducab Metals Business, a leading producer of copper and aluminium wires and cables. These companies truly represent not only the transformation of the Middle East into a powerhouse of manufacturing but also the business opportunities that this geography provides.

We look forward to welcoming all delegates to this unmissable session.