Economic environment in 2017
The EU economies have grown by almost 2.5% in 2017, enjoying the strongest period of economic growth in a decade. Most countries saw their GDP growth expand more than in previous years, except for the UK where lingering concerns about the impact of Brexit and the slow nature of the process led to the weakest pace in five years. The Central European economies especially grew robustly in 2017. Tailwinds to the economies included strong export demand, fiscal stimulus programs, industrial and public investments, and tight labor markets.
Outside the EU, GDP growth in Turkey surged above 6%, supported by government stimulus measures encouraging borrowing and spending. In Russia, the economy has returned to modest growth amidst positive global growth, a recovery in trade, and rising oil prices.
The European automotive and construction markets – sectors that are crucial for Europe and highly relevant for Bekaert’s activities – witnessed continued strong demand in 2017. EU new registrations of both cars and commercial vehicles exceeded 3% growth over 2017. The EU construction sector also improved markedly in 2017, owing to high levels of consumer and business sentiment, easy access to financing, and increased investment in public infrastructure works. After a long downturn in the oil and gas sector, the industry has ended 2017 with a degree of renewed confidence. Oil prices have shown a growth trend over the course of the year and gas exports from Russia to Europe have risen to a new record.
Bekaert has a presence in both the Western European and the Central & Eastern European markets. In Europe, we offer a quality portfolio of advanced steel wire products for sectors that are in search of innovative, high-end products and solutions.