APRIL 2009

Steel import permits drop

Based on the Commerce Department’s most recent Steel Import Monitoring and Analysis (SIMA) data, the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) reported 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).