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June 2006

Steel imports surge to over 11 million tons

Washington, DC— Based on preliminary Census Bureau data for March, the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) reported that the United States imported a total of 3,888,000 net tons (NT) of steel in March 2006, including 2,916,000 NT of finished steel.

Year-to-date (YTD) imports in these categories climbed 32 and 27 percent, respectively, compared to YTD imports for the same period in 2005. March 2006 finished imports jumped 29 percent compared to March 2005. For both finished and total steel imports, March 2006 was the highest monthly import tonnage since November 1998.

Looking at a three-month rolling average, the trend shows that finished steel imports overall are up 30 percent, with notable increases in wire rods (up 91 percent), structural shapes (up 79 percent), cold-rolled sheets (up 61 percent), reinforcing bars (up 54 percent), hot dipped galvanized sheets and strip (up 36 percent) and hot-rolled sheets (up 31 percent).

The trend is especially pronounced for certain countries with a history of unfair trading, e.g., Taiwan (up 139 percent), Turkey (up 116 percent), China (up 86 percent), South Korea (up 45 percent), Brazil (up 43 percent) and Japan (up 38 percent). On an annualized basis (based on YTD 2006 imports), total steel imports would be 44.2 million NT. That would set an all-time record.

Key products with large increases in March compared to the month before include line pipe (up 63 percent), hot rolled sheets (up 40 percent), hot-dipped galvanized sheets and strip (up 33 percent) and cold rolled sheets (up 14 percent).

Products with sizable YTD increases compared to 2005 include reinforcing bars (up 125 percent), heavy structural shapes (up 95 percent), galvanized electrolytic sheets & strip (up 53 percent), semi-finished steel, consumed in significant tonnages by converters and processors (up 50 percent), bars – light shapes (up 48 percent), cut length plates (up 36 percent), galvanized hot dip sheets & strip (up 36 percent), cold rolled sheets (up 34 percent), wire rods (up 31 percent), hot rolled sheets (up 28 percent) and several pipe and tube products, including line pipe, oil country goods and standard pipe (up 45, 41 and 33 percent, respectively).

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