Steel Imports Drop 22 Percent

But import market share stays high and, in spite of lowest import figure in 16 years, domestic production and jobs being displaced

Washington, D.C., May 6, 2009 -Based on the Commerce Department’s most recent Steel Import Monitoring and Analysis (SIMA) data, the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) reported today that steel import permit applications for the month of April totaled 1,170,000 net tons (NT).  This was a 22% decrease from both the 1,503,000 permit tons recorded in March 2009 and the March preliminary imports total of 1,505,000 NT.  Import permit tonnage for finished steel in April was 1,046,000 NT, a decrease of 27% from the preliminary imports total of 1,437,000 NT in March and the lowest monthly import figure since February 1993.   April 2009 total and finished steel import permit tons would annualize at 19,894,000 NT and 18,353,000 NT, down 38 and 29%, respectively, from the 31,927,000 NT and 25,956,000 NT imported in 2008.

In April 2009, the largest finished steel import permit applications for offshore countries were for China (93,000 NT), India (76,000 NT), Japan (73,000 NT), South Korea (68,000 NT) and Germany (51,000 NT).   Finished imports from NAFTA countries were at the same import market share as in March (32%).  However, finished imports from a large number of smaller foreign suppliers actually increased in April vs. the prior month.    Finished steel import market share in April, despite the 27% monthly drop from March, is estimated at 24%, equal to 2008.

Finished steel import products that registered increases in April vs. the March preliminary include Electrolytic Galvanized Sheet and Strip (up 23%), Heavy Structural Shapes (up 16%) and Cold Rolled Sheets (up 7%).  Year-to-date, imports of Oil Country Tubular Goods (OCTG) remain significantly higher (up 48%).
“In view of the unprecedented downturn in the domestic steel market, one needs to look at these import volumes unrelated to past market conditions.  While import volumes overall are down significantly, there has been little reduction in import market share -- and given a domestic industry that is operating at close to 40% -- these import volumes are displacing production and jobs that the domestic industry critically needs,” Thomas J. Gibson, president and CEO of AISI, said, commenting on the April data.

AISI serves as the voice of the North American steel industry in the public policy arena and advances the case for steel in the marketplace as the preferred material of choice.  AISI also plays a lead role in the development and application of new steels and steelmaking technology.  AISI is comprised of 24 member companies, including integrated and electric furnace steelmakers, and 138 associate and affiliate members who are suppliers to or customers of the steel industry.  AISI's member companies represent approximately 75 percent of both U.S. and North American steel capacity.  For more news about steel and its applications, view AISI’s Web site at www.steel.org.

Contact:
Nancy Gravatt
Vice President, Communications
American Iron and Steel Institute
Tel: 202.452.7115