We asked Thorsten Gerber, CEO of the Gerber Group, three questions about stainless steel purchasing, logistics and imports in 2021.
SNB: Stainless steel is in short supply and delivery times are long. What should I do?
Thorsten Gerber: SNB has already reported on this in great detail. Stainless steel, like steel in general, is in short supply and the lead times for European and US products are very long. In some cases in December. That will very likely remain the case in 2021. And likely continue through 2022.
Take care of your procurement now. Look at what you need and where you can get it. The domestic procurement market is going to get worse, not better.
You can, of course, hope that a domestic steel producer will take pity on you and offer you something. But in Europe, at least one major blast furnace is still going into maintenance at a well-known stainless steel manufacturer. Or you can look outside your local market. It’s always better to have more than one source of supply.
However, make absolutely sure that you are dealing with a reliable and trustworthy partner. Who also values years of customer-supplier relationships. Sometimes this is not so easy. The Asian market in particular is huge and confusing.
SNB: Logistics have also been disrupted at stainless steel due to the pandemic. What should I do now?
Thorsten Gerber: Order your stainless steel at reasonable intervals and as you need it. Even if the price once does not perfectly meet your requirements. It is always better to pay a little more than to end up without any material at all. Or you will have to buy even more expensive on the domestic market. Delivery times are already long. And containers and ships are in short supply.
The Europeans have proposed to the United States to suspend all tariffs for six months. If the proposal is accepted there, European steelmakers will also divert capacity to the USA. Prices there are even higher than in Europe. Then there won’t be much left for the EU market.
Raw material prices for metals are expected to have risen by 30% by the end of the year. That’s what the World Bank is saying right now. Of course, there are always imponderables involved. But so far, prices have only pointed upwards. And China is currently reducing steel production significantly.
Therefore, my tip: It is better to take care of demand planning and the necessary capacities now. But again, use a good partner.
SNB: Stainless steel imports are difficult and more expensive than local procurement. Is that true?
Thorsten Gerber: Yes, the media report on this from time to time, playing into the hands of the large domestic steel producers. They then write things like “Imports are more expensive than domestic stainless steel. The Safeguard quotas are quickly filled. Importing stainless steel is unattractive.” And so on and so forth. We as experts in stainless steel trading, with years of experience in the field, not only got our customers and ourselves through the crisis year 2020 very successfully.
We have even expanded our commitment worldwide. And in addition to Germany, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates, we have also been represented by branches in the US market since 2020. And the US market is at least as challenging as the European market.
There are always legal ways to import stainless steel into Europe or the United States. We’ve built up the necessary knowledge and skills over the years, and we continue to educate ourselves for our customers. After all, that’s what we’re here for. And neither Section 232 nor EU Safeguard could stop us. Believe me, it is possible.
We at the Gerber Group have been trading in stainless steel worldwide for over 20 years. We are your experts when it comes to purchasing, import, logistics and services. Information is a vital part of this. Because only then can you and we make the right decisions. Do you have any questions? Contact us now.
Disclaimer: Many things here represent our opinion. Others are information from the Internet. We can therefore never claim to be correct or complete. And never base a business decision solely on the news you receive from us.