Payment delays have remained largely stable and payment duration improved. Bankruptcy and failed collection attempts remain top reasons for write-offs.
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The UK leaving the EU without a deal would be a major disruption, causing business insolvencies to be higher in the UK and EU27.
The USMCA has finally been signed on November 30, easing short-term uncertainty surrounding North American trade.
The main potential downside risk for the industry is a deterioration in orders from main buyer industries, especially from the automotive sector.
Both payment delays and insolvencies could increase in 2019, especially if price and margin pressures rise and activity in the construction sector slows.
Competitiveness of the steel and metals industry remains negatively impacted by power costs, which are about 30%-50% higher than in France or Germany.
Despite ongoing price pressure the general outlook for the Dutch steel/metals sector is positive, and the impact of the US import tariffs is very limited.
Payment delays or rescheduling schemes are currently on an upward trend, as producers are facing cash pressure due to heavier working capital requirements.
Higher margin pressure as demand from the automotive sector is expected to decrease in the coming months, while demand from construction remains sluggish.
The number and amount of protracted payments and insolvencies remains high, and many private-owned steel and metals producers face serious troubles.
Payment delays and insolvencies will probably increase until the new USMCA trade agreement is ratified and the US import tariff issue is resolved.