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The first week of January recorded a higher level of activity throughout the entire Benelux market. As of the second week of the year, however, conditions started to turn south and overall activity became calm. More recent days have seen some improvement, with the market a little stronger, but the belief is that it will remain slow for some time. When visiting local yards, it is noticeably very quiet on the incoming side.

In general, the economy has been doing well but a deeper look reveals that, among other sectors, residential and commercial construction is down and with no prospect of improvement in the short term owing to higher interest rates, something which is impacting our industry on many levels. Domestic industries are struggling to maintain their share in external markets owing to higher salaries and more expensive energy costs, with the latter putting particular pressure on energy-intensive sectors.

As for exports to China and India, pricing from these markets remains strong.