2018 was a challenge, economically and politically speaking. The uncertainty brought by looming Brexit or Donald Trump’s economic and customs policies are prominent examples. Nevertheless, German aluminium companies and also alimex approach the new year with optimism – because the material aluminium is enjoying growing (international) demand. Thanks to its versatile material properties, it can be used in the most varied fields, such as electric mobility, lightweight construction, infrastructure projects and climate protection measures.
2018 – a turbulent year for the aluminium sector
From an economic-political perspective, 2018 began with a bombshell, namely Donald Trump’s announcement that he would implement one of his manifesto pledges and levy punitive tariffs on imports into the USA. The European aluminium sector was also affected by these, and from June some aluminium products were given a punitive tariff of ten percent. As a result, the US sanctions against the Russian aluminium smelting works Rusal and its Irish subsidiary also affected the European market because through this factory, the aluminium-oxide supply to the European market was secured. Nevertheless, the sector proved to be robust. Firstly because of the relatively stable aluminium prices during the year and secondly due to continual demand for aluminium products from different branches.
2018 from the point of view of alimex: challenging but manageable
For alimex too, 2018 was a challenge, forcing the Willich-based family-owned company to adjust its business strategy. “Our maxim is: be proactive rather than reactive”, states alimex CEO Dr Philip Grothe. Meaning, for example, that alimex invested heavily in its production processes both in Germany and abroad. These included the construction of a production line in the alimex factory in Columbia, South Carolina. “Donald Trump wants to protect his industry. However, he achieves the opposite because by inciting high-technology companies such as alimex to get an even stronger foothold in the USA, he only increases the competitive pressure for local companies. These can often not keep up with the high-quality products of foreign producers and therefore fall behind”, said Grothe.
Prospects for 2019? Challenging like 2018, but full of optimism
2019 will also be a year filled with challenges – both for alimex and the entire aluminium sector. “Our tasks for 2019 and beyond is to transfer this demand systematically to the growth regions of Asia and America and therefore to ensure success”, said the alimex CEO.
With its optimism, alimex is a symbol for the aluminium sector. Because, of course, the current economic-political uncertainties represent a problem but the long-term prospects are good and the industry is prepared. The mega trends of the future – digitalisation, electro mobility, sustainability or additive manufacturing – all also build upon the material of aluminium and its continually new application possibilities.
The Gesamtverband der deutschen Aluminiumindustrie (GDA) also states that the aluminium sector is well-prepared for these challenges. “We (help to) develop the products and solutions of tomorrow”, says Christian Wellner, executive presidential member of the GDA. Being a globally available and deployable material with a continually expanding range of application possibilities, aluminium is a symbol of technical developments in the 21st century.