The German Non-Ferrous Metals Association (WVM)

Topic of the month - July 2014

Photo © Hydro Aluminium Deutschland GmbH, Neuss, Germany

© Hydro Aluminium Deutschland GmbH, Neuss, Germany

Metals surround us everywhere; they’ve simply become indispensable for modern life. All metals originate from natural sources of Earth. Non-ferrous metals include all metals except iron. The most well-known ones are copper, aluminium, zinc, nickel, magnesium and lead. These non-ferrous metals as well as their alloys have many unique properties, which is why they have become requisite staples for today’s industry, infrastructure and everyday life.

Representing the interests of the non-ferrous metals industry

The WirtschaftsVereinigung Metalle (WVM), which is also known by its English moniker as the Non-Ferrous Metals Association, represents the commercial and political interests of the German non-ferrous metals industry with its 660 companies and 109,102 employees. In 2013, this sector generated total sales of EUR 45.6 billion.

The core mission pursued by the Non-Ferrous Metals Association on behalf of its member companies is the representation of the commercial and economic interests of all German producers and processors of non-ferrous metals. The objective is to articulate the political concerns of the non-ferrous metals industry on the German and European level, especially in matters related to trade, environmental, tax, energy and transportation policy.

Working with its member companies and other industry associations, it also promotes market transparency by providing statistical services and market assessments. Similarly, it works to develop and enhance standards for metal products, conducts applied research and, last but not least, promotes a dialogue with the general public.
© Photo: WVM

The president of the German Non-Ferrous Metals Association (WVM), Oliver Bell © Photo: WVM

Acceptance of the industry in Germany

In Managing Director Martin Kneer’s view, acceptance of the industry in Germany is a key factor for the economic development of the country in coming years. “Prosperity doesn’t just fall from the sky. We’ll have to continue to work hard for it in years to come. That’s why the industry must be accepted by society,” said Kneer at the recent “Day of Metallurgy” event in Goslar, the all-important annual get together of the non-ferrous metals industry.

According to Kneer, the industry will continue to play a key role in future. “Infrastructure expansion and prosperity gains in third countries will keep driving the demand for non ferrous metals. The goal during this process must be to leverage the know-how available in Germany: We have the best, most efficient and most eco-friendly technology right here.”

WVM President Oliver Bell has spoken out in favour of an in depth dialogue between the industry and the public as well: “Anyone wanting to be accepted by society must seek an open dialogue and transparency.”
© Wieland-Werke AG, Ulm, Gemany

© Wieland-Werke AG, Ulm, Germany

SME innovation generates solutions for societal challenges

Non-ferrous metals are critically important when it comes to current hot topics such as the energy transition, securing the supply of raw materials, resource protection and recycling, and economic efficiency and technical innovation.

Vis-à-vis these issues, the German Non-Ferrous Metals Association believes that entrepreneurial success is what generates the impulses necessary for growth, prosperity and job creation in Germany. International competition creates major challenges for the German model of the Mittelstand and the small- and medium sized enterprises that are its backbone – including those in the non-ferrous metals sector.

Starting now and over the next decades, Germany’s society and economy will be confronted by the so-called megatrends: demographic and climate change, the scarcity of resources and an increasingly globalised world. Ongoing and enhanced investments in research and innovation will be required in order to tackle these challenges and ensure a long-term positive outlook for Germany.

Efforts by German SMEs’ to innovate are crucial building blocks in this context. The WVM is convinced that these efforts must be encouraged by industrial policy. Additionally, the association has been discussing frequently the issue of a Common European Industrial Policy, again and again raising one of the central questions: How can we bring about competitiveness?

Continuity under new management

Franziska Erdle, one of WMV’s three current directors, will succeed Martin Kneer as the association’s managing director in February 2015.

Erdle, a lawyer by trade, feels she is well prepared for her new role. “Over the last three years, I’ve had an in-depth opportunity to get to know the industry, the representatives of our member companies and our team here at the association. These experiences and this knowledge provide a great foundation for my future task.”
© Rheinzink GmbH & Co. KG, Datteln, Germany

© Rheinzink GmbH & Co. KG, Datteln, Germany

Non-ferrous metals production on the rise

In the first quarter of 2014, the German non-ferrous metals industry generated a production volume of 2 million tonnes – up 6% from the same period the year before. Even though industry revenues in Q1 2014 fell by EUR 11 billion, or nearly 7%, compared to Q1 2013, WVM President Oliver Bell said “a positive mood prevailed” in the industry. The non-ferrous metals industry exported 43% of its output (EUR 5 billion), with 59% of those exports going to countries in the Eurozone. It should be seen as particularly encouraging that growth has returned to the Southern European countries after the deep recession there.

The Q1 2014 report (in German) is also available online. The Non-Ferrous Metals Association simultaneously presented its latest annual report, which contains an extensive chapter – entitled “Konjunktur und Statistik” (The State of the Economy and Statistics) – with insights into the economic structure of the German non-ferrous metals industry, market assessments, and facts and figures on the current state of the non-ferrous metals sector.

Furthermore, the report contains WVM position statements on enhancing the industry’s acceptance in political and societal circles, an analysis of changes in the German parliament, the Bundestag, and information on corporate espionage.

New WVM website online

For a few weeks now, the WVM’s revamped, more contemporary online presence has been up and running at www.wvmetalle.de. The redesigned website provides users with an organised, convenient way to access comprehensive information about the interest group’s activities. Moreover, users will find a broad range of services here.

Four headings serve as central navigation points, offering current reports and background information on each subject. They are called “Die WVM” (The WVM), “Die NE-Metalle” (The Non-Ferrous Metals), “Geschäftsfelder” (Business Segments) and “Presse” (Press). An internal area with further information is available exclusively for member companies.

WVM invites everyone to check out this great new website. Feedback is welcome and should be sent to relaunch@wv-metalle.de.

Frank Lindner