The outlook for the global economy is positive. There is more confidence in the market. Investments are increasing, resulting in increased demand and upward price pressures. In many countries, customer order books, particularly in the Industry segment, are full and capacity shortages are emerging. In the Energy market, the number of planned investments and projects, particularly medium-sized projects, is increasing. Investments in mega projects are not materializing for the time being.
Steel and pipe production capacity was considerably reduced throughout the world, particularly in China but also in other countries. Due to the growing demand, prices and delivery times are increasing. This trend is expected to continue into 2018. Worldwide there appears to be an increase in (anti-)dumping and protectionism in the steel industry. The effect of this on the price levels in different parts of the world and in various product groups is uncertain.
We are operating in a market in which our role as trading company has a substantial advantage. In situations of scarcity, the availability of materials sets the standard. Van Leeuwen can play an important part in the present market with its stock portfolio, its sourcing expertise and its international network.
The ongoing recovery after the difficult years of crisis, gives us more room to look ahead and to clearly define our outlook on the market. Apart from the changed playing field of suppliers, competitors and customers, there are global developments that will have major impact on the coming years. The energy transition and digitization in particular offer us an excellent opportunity to investigate their potential for our role as a global trading company.
Van Leeuwen is confident about the prospects and opportunities in 2018 and subsequent years. Our strength lies in the experience and expertise we have built up over many years. On the basis of this strength, customers and suppliers continue to choose for Van Leeuwen. With our more than 1000 enthusiastic employees, who bring this knowledge and experience to the market, we continue to build our company and create an outlook on a bright future.
Zwijndrecht, the Netherlands, 22 March 2018
P.L. Rietberg (Chairman)