How are you Maja?
‘Serbia is now in week four of the national lockdown. Some colleagues and I returned to Serbia just a few days before the state of emergency was declared and we were worried that we’d caught the virus. Luckily none of us did. We all try to be positive as much as we can by taking care of our personal health and the health of our loved ones. My mother is a doctor and was present at a lecture in my hometown where someone was infected. So both of my parents are in self-isolation and I cannot visit them.’
How has coronavirus affected your business and operations?
‘At Steel Impex, safety measures have been increased to a maximum. All workers received masks, gloves, disinfectants, soap etc. Thorough disinfecting of the offices, yard and trucks is being done on a weekly basis. As for business, in March we managed to load 90% of the quantities that were agreed. On the 25 March, Montenegro declared a transport restriction at Tuzi, on the Montenegro-Albania border, for all transit shipments including the railway because of Covid-19. The restriction was lifted on the 28th. Loadings in progress, or shipments that were waiting for customs, were delayed for three days. Volumes of bought steel scrap have increased since the state of emergency. Prices dropped EUR 50 per tonne at the end of March.’
What have you done to respond to the crisis?
‘In order to reduce the impact we decided to work as much as we could while taking good care of our health. And we do our best to help others. Steel Impex donated two million Serbian Dinars (EUR 17 000) to Unicef, as part of a Serbian private sector support initiative to buy protection equipment in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. I am really proud of the owners and the company that we are in the position to help those in need.’
What do you expect to be the long-term effect on your business?
‘In Serbia, as in other countries and markets, smaller collectors are currently hesitating to collect and that affects the scrap volumes going to smaller companies and then on to bigger ones and so on. And another thing – municipal waste collection and sorting by hand have become challenging.Construction and automobile industries continue to be slow which will of course negatively affect demand for steel products and steel scrap. We don’t expect steel scrap prices to recover until the end of the year. We expect demand for non-ferrous scrap, especially aluminium and copper, to be low for a longer period.’
What have you learned from the crisis so far?
“To always keep your eyes wide open, don’t panic, think in advance and, perhaps most importantly, adapt quickly to the changes.”