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BIR chief Bjorn Grufman warns over protectionism in metal markets

The head of the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) has spoken of the global scrap industry’s struggle “to make a living” and warned that protectionism threatened “free and fair” trade between its members.

BIR president Bjorn Grufman, speaking as 730 delegates were gathering at the organisation’s Autumn convention in Warsaw, said ferrous and non-ferrous traders alike were suffering difficult markets.

“We are fighting to make a living,” he said. “Consumers are also having a tough time.”

He suggested that there was a growing danger that ministers in individual countries would seek to give advantage to their own industries by adopting strategies, such as local environmental legislation or greater bureaucracy around documentation, that amounted to protectionism.

“This is a huge problem. They will use all the tricks in the book to protect their industries,” Grufman claimed.

“BIR will always stand up for free and fair trade: that must be best for the world, our industry and our consumers. We will not stand back and agree duties.”

He pointed out that as he was speaking, BIR was challenging South African export restrictions in the country’s courts.

Grufman formally introduced BIR’s new director general Alexandre Delacoux who took over the role on 1 September when Francis Veys stepped down after 31 years.

Delacoux said he was seeking to ensure the organisation was a voice for the whole industry, helping legislators to challenge protectionism and arbitrating when members were seeking to counter such barriers.

He said he was also looking to grow the membership further, particularly in Latin America. BIR has 920 members comprising companies from the private sector and 40 national trade federations from 74 different countries. More than half come from Europe.

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