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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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.
Despite the comprehensive safeguarding measures imposed by the EU, the risk of declining steel prices as a result of additional steel inflow remains.
EU safeguarding measures against steel imports could become an issue if the EU and the UK fail to reach an agreement on the post Brexit trade relationship.
Mid-level producers, smaller steel and metals service centres have started to feel cash flow and profit margin pressure after the imposition of tariffs.