The rising cost of plastics and cheap German labor—yes, you read that correctly—have Belgium’s plastics industry concerned. In a survey of its plastics processing members, the country’s plastics trade association found them generally optimistic about recovery but worried about their ability to competitive.
Federplast.be, the Belgian Association of Manufacturers of Plastic and Rubber Products, released the results of a survey of its members at its general meeting early this month. The country’s cumulative production volume in the plastics and rubber industry in 2010 grew by 5.7% and, for this year, fully 70% of those senior managers surveyed expect the sector to stabilize or to grow again.
So far, so good. But like processors everywhere, the Belgium contingent has resin prices on its mind, as well as concerns about low-cost labor in its large western neighbor, Germany. “Cheap” and “German labor” are not words often seen together but, of course, a cost always depends on that to which it is being compared. Also, the last decade has brought tremendous change within Germany’s employment laws so that trade unions have become generally more collaborative in their negotiations with employers....