Steel Imports Drop 31 Percent

But finished steel import market share still high and China remains top foreign supplier of finished steel
Washington, D.C., March 4, 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 February totaled 1,623,000 net tons (NT).  This was a 29 percent decrease from the 2,285,000 permit tons recorded in January 2009, and a 31 percent decrease from the January preliminary imports total of 2,343,000 NT.  Import permit tonnage for finished steel in February was 1,511,000 NT, a decrease of 29 percent from the preliminary imports total of 2,134,000 NT in January.   February 2009 total and finished steel import permit tons would annualize at 23,793,000 NT and 21,870,000 NT, down 26 and 16 percent, respectively, from the 31,927,000 NT and 25,956,000 NT imported in 2008.

In February 2009, the largest finished steel import permit applications for offshore countries were for China (307,000 NT), South Korea (148,000 NT), Japan (102,000 NT), Turkey (97,000NT) and Brazil (59,000 NT).   Cumulative tonnage from the top three offshore suppliers (China, South Korea and Japan) accounted for 37 percent of all finished imports in February, which was one-third more than the amount from NAFTA countries (28 percent).  In spite of the lower import tonnage in February, finished steel import market share last month was well above the 10-year average, as China remained the largest foreign supplier of finished steel.

Major finished steel import products that registered large increases in February vs. the January preliminary include Plates in Coils (up 54 percent), Standard Rails (up 19 percent) and Reinforcing Bar (up 17 percent).

In commenting on the import situation in February 2009, Thomas J. Gibson, president and CEO of the American Iron and Steel Institute, said that, “Even these lower import tonnages are substantial, because import market share is continuing at a historically high level and the domestic industry is operating at less than 50 % of capacity utilization for the third consecutive month.  Many steel communities are suffering, with workers who have been laid off or seen their hours slashed.  In this environment, we support Administration efforts to stimulate the economy and strictly enforce U.S. trade laws.”

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