October imports increase 1 percent compared to September 2009

Based on preliminary Census Bureau data, the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) reported that the United States imported a total of 2,964,000 net tons (NT) of steel in October 2008, including 2,344,000 NT of finished steel (up 1 percent and down 5 percent, respectively, vs. September final data). While total and finished steel imports through the first ten months of 2008 are each down 6 percent vs. the same period in 2007, the monthly average for finished steel imports in the most recent 3-month period (August-October 2008) is up 7 percent vs. the monthly average in the previous 3 months (May-July 2008). Total and finished steel imports on an annualized basis this year are each down 2 percent, respectively, vs. 2007. On an annualized basis, total imports of steel in 2008 would be 32.8 million NT.

“Against the backdrop of a severe economic downturn in the United States and globally, the unprecedented tonnage of finished steel imports from China in October (713,000 NT) is of extreme concern,” AISI president and CEO Thomas J. Gibson, said. “At the recent G-20 Summit, world leaders warned against WTO-inconsistent export promotion policies. It has not escaped our notice that, as a key part of China’s domestic stimulus program, the Chinese government has again changed its border measure policies to promote exports of steel and higher value steel-containing processed goods, while leaving intact its export restrictions on vital raw materials. America’s steel producers will not allow the United States market to become again a dumping ground for unfairly traded steel from offshore, as was the case in 1998 and during the last steel crisis.”

Key products with a large increase in October compared to the month before are Hot Rolled Bars (up 49 percent), Cold Rolled Sheets (up 21 percent) and Wire Rod (up 20 percent). For the year-to-date in 2008, products with significant increases vs. the same period in 2007 include Oil Country Goods (up 77 percent), Hot Rolled Bars (up 13 percent), and Line Pipe (up 11 percent).

In October, the largest volume of finished imports from offshore was from China (713,000 NT, up 26 percent from September). This was 30 percent of all finished imports. While steel imports from China in the first ten months of 2008 are down 9 percent compared to the same period last year, Chinese imports set a new all time record in October. Much of this tonnage is in high-value products still receiving government export tax rebates. Other major offshore suppliers in September include Korea (167,000 NT, down 32 percent from Sept.), Japan (132,000, up 5 percent), Germany (81,000 NT, down 11 percent), Turkey (72,000 NT, down 33 percent) and India (65,000 NT, down 59 percent). Above is a summary chart of finished steel imports by country.