March 2006

2005 steel import figures down slightly from 2004

Washington, DC— Based on preliminary Census Bureau data for December, the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) reported that the United States imported a total of 31,915,000 net tons (NT) of steel in 2005, including 25,053,000 NT of finished steel. Imports in these categories declined 10.9 and 11.7 percent, respectively, compared to 2004, which saw a surge of imports (to 35.8 million NT, the third highest in history) and a large buildup of steel inventories held by customers. Finished steel imports in 2005 remained at a high level — the fifth highest in history. Total and finished steel imports in December 2005 were 2,726,000 NT and 2,055,000 NT, up 13.2 and 6.3 percent, respectively, over November 2005.

Compared to the year before, imports in 2005 were substantially higher in a number of product lines, including oil country goods (up 50 percent), galvanized electrolytic sheets & strips (up 39 percent), cold finished bars (up 35 percent), cut-length plates (up 21 percent), tin plate (up 19 percent) and mechanical tubing (up 17 percent). December 2005 imports increased significantly compared to the month before in many categories, including hot and cold rolled sheets (up 40 and 20 percent, respectively). Other products showing a large monthly increase in December included semifinished steel, utilized in significant quantities by steel processors (up 42 percent), wire rods (up 39 percent), all other metallic coated sheets & strips (up 29 percent), bars–light shapes (up 24 percent) and cut-length plates (up 22 percent).

Finished steel imports from China in 2005 were up 26 percent compared to 2004 — and up 256 percent vs. 2003. Notable monthly gains (November-December 2005) were registered by a number of countries that have a history of currency manipulation and unfair trading, including South Korea (up 72 percent), and China (up 58 percent). Comparing 4th Quarter 2005 to 3rd Quarter 2005, steel imports were up significantly from a number of countries – including, most prominently, India (up 232 percent), Taiwan (up 56 percent) and South Korea (up 40 percent). U.S. spot prices in December for hot and cold-rolled sheet per ton rose slightly from the previous month (from $535 to $550, and from $630 to $640), according to data publicly reported by Purchasing Magazine. Year-over-year price declines for these products (December 2005 vs. December 2004) were 16.7 and 14.7 percent, respectively.


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