2020 was a rollercoaster year for recycling and shipping markets across the globe. The impact of Covid started to really take hold in the second quarter of the year with virtually all ports closing for 'as is' deliveries and sub-continent recycling locations also shutting down for the delivery / beaching of units as virus cases surged. Seafarers and ships were stranded at sea as recycling markets tumbled by around USD 150/LDT from above USD 400/LDT to much below USD 300/LDT. Local yards closed and labourers returned to home towns as stay at home notices were observed and activity came to a standstill for a period of 2-3 months.
From the end of May / June onwards and with the impact of severe lockdowns in India and elsewhere starting to be felt, activity slowly resumed with greater care taken towards health and safety and preventing the spread of an easily transmissible virus. Finally, vessels stuck at sea for a period of months were allowed to beach, albeit at much reduced prices.
Slowly but surely prices started to improve, first in Pakistan, then in India, and finally Bangladesh as demand and raw material started to shift from local plots once again. Pakistan indeed came back to the table after a period of almost two years on the sidelines due to safety concerns and closures following several accidents on tankers and a historical currency crisis that gripped the country. With prices surging up into the mid 300s/LDT again come the third quarter of the year, a short lived cartel was formed in Bangladesh to try and control prices. This only resulted in vessels being pushed towards a rampant Pakistan and India market until frustrations started to tell and the cartel fell apart.
Towards the end of 2020, Bangladesh, therefore, became the market to watch again as prices came up above USD 400/LDT to regain much of the ground lost and more over the course of the year and both India and Pakistan followed in hot pursuit as steel prices soared to new record highs with China starting to import again following the iron ore ban from Australia.
The prospects for 2021, therefore, look bright as all markets currently trade in the mid USD 400s/LDT and above again.