A healthy, technologically advanced, strategical industry for the stability of the national economic offer, burdened by a European import duties policy which threatens to undermine its foundations.
The production volume of the Italian aluminium processing and reprocessing industry is about 1.85 mln t, including 583,000 t of semi-finished products and 586,000 t of rolled and extruded products, as well as 570,000 t of foundry alloys. Brescia is one of the national capitals of this segment: a major industrial centre, especially for extrusion, casting and high-pressure casting. The last two activities are the most affected by the duties. Here are two indicators which help better understand the situation: according to the research department of Confindustria’s (General Confederation of Italian Industry) Brescia branch, the sales volume of Brescia-based companies engaged in the production, casting and processing of non-ferrous metals, including mechanical processing and production and reprocessing equipment, exceeds EUR 3 bln, and they have more than 10,000 employees. This sheds light on the geopolitical extent of the European game with duties, which forces processing companies to pay 6% more than the market price for raw materials (there are no producers of primary aluminium in the country, and more than 70% of the demand is covered by non-EU countries).
‘Firstly – explains Mario Conserva, General Secretary of Face, the Federation of Aluminium Consumers in Europe – if we look at the future, this raw material is going through a great renaissance, because it is a leader in sustainability, including due to new recycling technologies. In addition to the duties issue, which has been going on for a long time, there is now a shortage of aluminium in global markets: it is not concerning, so far, but it may become a problem for local companies, especially for the automotive supply chain, for which this raw material is the base for a new model of electric vehicles. One of the main reasons for this shortage is the shutting down of several old production facilities in China to build new, more environmentally sustainable ones. This will create problems for all countries which do not produce primary aluminium: here is another reason to abolish duties on aluminium’.
Thanks to the new demand for semi-finished products and lighter and more environmentally-friendly components, the aluminium industry was able to withstand the crisis: ‘Downstream small and medium enterprises – Conserva continues – were already showing a consistent recovery in July 2020, which consolidated in the last months of the year, leading to a slight decline of about 5%. The general sentiment is currently positive due to a good coverage of orders and a full recovery of productivity: the packaging and pharmaceutical industries were not significantly affected by the pandemic, as there were no interruptions in their activities, while the most evident decline occurred in the automotive industry and, to a lesser extent, in construction’. A valid reason to acquire critical mass and submit the industry’s demands to Brussels.
(Translated from Italian, Corriere della Sera newspaper – April 3, 2021)
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