Global Fastener News

2013 FIN – Perspective – Lederer: Distributors Seek More Influence in EU Policy

April 02
00:00 2014

January 30, 2013 FIN – The European Fastener Distributors Association will be making major changes, including seeking a broader role in European Union policy, the new association president told Fastener+Fixing Magazine.

At the capital in Brussels, the EU “is making decisions that have a direct and very real impact on the European fastener distribution sector and on its customers,” Dr. Volker Lederer declared.
He cited the 2009 antidumping case on carbon-steel fasteners from China as the “obvious example.”
“Right now there is a circumvention investigation on stainless steel fasteners and the way the Commission appears to be approaching this in relation to long-established, major factories is a source of considerable concern,” Lederer told F+F editor Phil Matten.
Lederer said distributors have not been as active or successful in influencing government policy as their manufacturing counterparts through the European Industrial Fastener Institute.
“In the past the EFDA has always reacted each time a new trade defense issue was raised in Brussels, but we feel that was often too late and made it very difficult under short timescales and also the constraints of the investigatory process to ensure our arguments were properly heard,” Lederer reflected.
“EFDA needs to make those arguments heard continuously to help decision makers recognize that it represents a very large industry in Europe, employing many people in businesses that contribute very substantially to the economies of the EU.”
EFDA will work with the Federation of German Wholesale, Foreign Trade and Services (BGA)) to provide administrative services and to “advise and act on its behalf in EU matters,” Lederer told F+F.
The German fastener distributors association – Fachverband des Schrauben-Grosshandels (FDS) – has been working with the BGA for eight years. 

”Now the BGA will provide an expert to work for both the FDS and EFDA specifically to increase the effectiveness of our representation in Brussels.”
Dr Helena Melnikov is succeeding Bernd Stapf, who is retiring after 12 years as EFDA’s secretary.
The BGA already has general representation in Brussels and Melnikov “will be specifically responsible for liaising with the European Commission and other EU institutions on behalf of EFDA and the FDS.”
A new EFDA task force will provide industry knowledge to Melnikov.
“It is crucially important we find a balance between the interests of European manufacturers and distributors. EFDA is not against antidumping, but we are most definitely committed to free trade and to ensuring that there is proper access to international sourcing markets, which are critical to the health and global competitiveness of much wider European industries and businesses,” Lederer said.
During the recent European Commission review of anti dumping tariffs, the EFDA urged that tariffs be held to “a level balancing the real raw material advantages of Chinese manufacturers,” Lederer cited. “That would have allowed distributors to continue to access the world’s largest fastener manufacturing resource when appropriate but also provide a fair level on which everyone in Europe could trade.”
“It is important today to cooperate at the European level and not just to work at a national level,” Lederer noted. “We have to recognize the continued expansion of the EU and that there are important fastener distribution companies operating in countries where there is no national fastener distribution association yet.
Lederer said the EFDA “is intent on moving from a reactive organization to a proactive force” in Europe. 

”We want to find fair solutions, not against European producers but to ensure a properly balanced market that can effectively supply and support all the major European industries and sectors that rely on fasteners and which does not endanger the competitiveness of our industry.”
Looking ahead to 2013, Lederer said that if the EU blocks more world sources of fasteners, it will cause price increases and limit availability.
Distributors’ inventory is vital for “the critical flow of parts, which may not represent a high proportion of the cost of production but if absent can have a catastrophic effect. 

”Fastener distributors invest heavily in inventory, in modern systems and logistics to ensure industry receives the right quality parts at the right price and right time,” Lederer told F+F. “So far the distribution industry has managed to adapt and to maintain this service but this is becoming increasingly challenging.”
Lederer also cited the economy as a distribution issue.  

”European countries do not now have the resources to stimulate their economies. Asian economies have to find the way to grow faster again or to adapt politically to lower growth levels. It is a period when all companies have to think very carefully about their business model to find the best way through a difficult situation.” ©2013/2014 Fastener Industry News.
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