APRIL 2012

Indirect steel trade deficit grew 32 percent

A new analysis of U.S. indirect steel trade revealed that U.S. indirect steel imports and the total indirect steel trade deficit both registered substantial growth in the recovery year of 2010. The new report available from the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) shows that indirect steel imports in 2010 took a higher share of total U.S. apparent steel consumption than was the case prior to the 2008-09 global recession. The report through data year 2010 includes a comparison to the years 2006 through 2009.

Indirect steel trade constitutes imports and exports of steel-containing goods, expressed in tons of steel. This report quantifies both the volume and value of annual U.S. trade in steel-containing goods in the years 2006-2010 with respect to major end-use markets, world regions and key countries.

The new report shows that U.S. indirect steel imports approached 34 million net tons (NT) in 2010, up 24 percent vs. 2009. While U.S. indirect steel exports also increased over this time period (up 19 percent), the total U.S. indirect steel trade deficit with the rest of the world – much of it in automotive products – rose 32 percent in 2010 to 11.9 million NT.

In commenting on the new report, Thomas J. Gibson, president and CEO of AISI, stated that, “We are particularly concerned that, in 2010, while the United States was experiencing a slow and fragile recovery from the recession, China’s share of the total U.S. indirect steel trade deficit remained close to 50 percent, and U.S. manufacturers were forced to compete against an additional 1.2 million tons of steel incorporated in finished goods from China. These imports were aided by China’s central government-managed model of economic development, which includes massive subsidies to steel and steel-intensive manufacturing industries.”

In this regard, Gibson expressed concern that, “With the slowdown in global economic growth and China’s growing excess capacity in both steel and steel-intensive goods, there could be renewed surges of unfairly traded Chinese steel to the U.S. and NAFTA markets – either imported directly or indirectly. The current economic problems in Europe only amplify the threat that the U.S. and North America could become even bigger targets for Chinese steel and steel-intensive goods going forward.”