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EU traders highlight further port congestion issues

European steel traders continue being concerned by the increasing congestion at European ports, adding to the many uncertainties surrounding the steel market in 2022 so far.

A Swiss-based trader tells Kallanish that ships arriving at Italian ports can wait up to 50 days before being able to dock. This in addition to the increasing costs applied to all tariffs related to handling, stocking and transporting materials.

“Part of the issues are created by the need to store material at ports for longer than usual due to the [EU] safeguard system. Even worse however is the problem created by the skyrocketing costs of transportation and services,” the trader observes.

According to analysis provider Sea-Intelligence’s latest report in January, the European terminals congestion index doubled in 2021, reaching a new record level by the end of December. The outlook for 2022 in Europe is that the situation will continue to get worse.

A number of traders also confirm that in Antwerp, for example, some operators at the port cut to two weeks – from the previous four weeks – the period for which steel products can be stocked free of charge at the port. This decision is set to weigh further on the costs of importing steel products and on the competitiveness of such activity against domestic steel supplies.

“The cargo rotation time is presently extremely low at the port and something needs to be done about it. The congestion is a real problem,” an Antwerp port executive says.

In Spain, the situation seems to be under control at ports, while in Italy congestion at the Ravenna port is further exacerbated by a strike by lorry drivers demanding support for petrol costs.

Emanuele Norsa Italy