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NEWS 22. November 2022

The raw material riddle

The reliable supply of raw materials is of central importance for the German economy, but it is precisely on this important point that the country faces an almost insoluble conundrum. "Does Germany Need a (New) Commodity Strategy?" was the title of the joint event organized by Hedgework and the European Finance Forum (EFF) on November 14 in Frankfurt. One of the speakers, Dimitri Speck of Seasonax Capital and a long-time commodity investor, summed it up somewhat exaggeratedly as follows: "Germany's commodity strategy currently looks like buying commodities at any price anywhere in the world." After only a short time, he said, it had become clear that this approach could not work in the long term. Not only because it inevitably leads to disputes with other nations that cannot afford this policy of full pockets. Raw materials are only ever available in limited quantities, and when demand is high, prices - natural gas, for example - can really skyrocket. Germany, he said, also cannot afford to spend so much on energy in the long run. "Throughout Europe, the cost of energy raw materials must be reduced; a permanently high deficit in the current account, as is currently occurring, is not bearable," Speck clarifies.

In the discussion moderated by Uwe Lill (GFD) and Udo Zietsch (EFF), Thomas Gutschlag, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Deutsche Rohstoff AG, pointed to the lack of initiatives by politicians and associations. Neither the Federal Ministry of Economics nor the Federation of German Industries (BDI) have a stringent strategy for the supply of raw materials, emphasized Gutschlag. In addition, many companies have withdrawn from the production of raw materials in recent decades, he adds. "If you want to be lean, you don't take care of raw materials." Now the disadvantage of this approach is becoming apparent, he says. Political support through long-term contracts with resource-rich countries? Not available.

The speakers called for more realism in energy and environmental policy - whether this will remain a pious hope will soon become apparent.

Photo by David Thielen on Unsplash

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