Solid strategies are needed to provide guarantees to the supply chain
Once again, not very comforting news for primary aluminium production in the European Union: the choices made for decades under the influence of lobbies interested in the budgets of multinationals and not in the needs of the downstream market and end users, have once again hit the mark, and so at the end of 2022 the dependence of EU countries on foreign imports of electrolytic metal will reach an all-time high of 79%, with estimates for further growth to 84% in 2023.
The overall picture since the year 2000 is very clear and does not need much comment; the rapidity of the decline should be food for thought. Just 22 years ago, when we started to draw the attention of decision-makers to a situation which seemed at risk, the dependence of primary aluminium in the EU was ‘only’ 47%.
What seems serious to us is the absence of a strategy; the EU has the role of taking the lead in protecting the competitiveness of our industries, of defining a clear line of industrial policy for raw materials of priority importance such as aluminium, of committing itself with determination and without conditioning to ensure reliable, long-lasting and affordable sources of supply; looking at the real and declared institutional objective, which is to guarantee the solidity of a supply chain rich in over a hundred years of experience, particularly in the thousands of small and medium-sized companies downstream. A heritage based on presence in the territories, which is the true economic and social value to be safeguarded, worth over 75% of the turnover and over 90% of the workforce of the entire light metal industrial segment, which does not relocate.
There has been no clear vision to date, nor a careful assessment of the mechanisms for access to raw materials, which are still contaminated by a pointless import duty on a raw material (which we lack and have to import), which introduces burdensome conditions for users, there is instead a timid and scant attention to promptly put in place defence measures against dumping practices or anti-competitive distortions implemented against our system, due, for example, to overcapacity subsidised by exporting states.
Unless decisive action is taken, it will be difficult for things to improve. However, we continue with our usual confidence to hope that things will change before the human and technical assets of our aluminium system, and in particular of downstream operators and users, might suffer irreversible damage.
Source: Alluminio & Leghe by PubliTec