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Benelux

The Benelux is going through an interesting period. Regional elections in the Netherlands had quite the surprise in store for many and, going forward, the outcome could potentially impact the climate policy set by the current Dutch government. In Belgium, the government also has a couple of sensitive topics to tackle and how these are handled may set the tone for upcoming elections.  

Parallel to this, the unstable situation surrounding Credit Suisse bank created uncertainty in the financial markets. Potentially, this could have influenced banks’ willingness to extend credit and thus have made financing more challenging and expensive, potentially leading to a decline in economic growth. Fortunately, the situation was mitigated at the last minute.  

Looking at other macro indicators, the construction industry is currently facing a slowdown with thinner order books expected to remain a theme throughout 2023, partly due to the pricing increase for construction equipment. Although energy costs have cooled a little, manufacturers of such equipment are expected to continue raising prices for their finished goods. Another hurdle for the construction industry has been the length of time taken to secure necessary permits.  

A more positive note has been sounded from within the automotive industry, especially with car sales improving in the short term. For our industry, another positive has been the announcement of further investments in two major recycling projects at Aurubis plants in Belgium. These confirm the company’s investment in finding more sustainable solutions to recover even more strategic metals like copper and nickel, facilitating the green energy transition within the EU.

Trading within Benelux appears rather calm for the time being. Pricing is said to be on the lower side, making metals like aluminium and stainless rather difficult to move. Demand is, at best, spot driven. Zinc scrap is facing a drop in availability on the one hand while, on the other, demand from the brass industry regarding finished zinc blocks is also down. Local industrial facilities also seem to be generating less scrap and by-products, indicating a slight slowdown at present.