JUNE 2011

Steel import permits up in April

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 April totaled 2,626,000 net tons (NT).

This was a 7 percent increase from the 2,455,000 permit tons recorded in March and a 7 percent increase from the March preliminary imports total of 2,446,000 NT.

Import permit tonnage for finished steel in April was 1,999,000 NT, up 8 percent from the preliminary imports total of 1,850,000 NT in March. Total imports in April were at their highest level in two-and-a-half years, and finished imports were higher than in any month since January 2009. April 2011 total and finished steel import permit tons would annualize at 27,100,000 NT and 20,964,000 NT, up 13 percent and 11 percent, respectively, from the 23,929,000 NT and 18,857,000 NT imported in 2010. The estimated finished steel import market share in April rose to 23 percent, the highest level since July 2010.

In April, the largest finished steel import permit applications for offshore countries were for Korea (347,000 NT, up 51 percent from March), India (126,000 NT, up 138 percent), Japan (116,000 NT, up 3 percent), China (104,000 NT, up 55 percent) and Turkey (93,000 NT, up 89 percent).

Finished steel import permits for major products that registered large increases in April vs. the March preliminary include plates in coils (up 85 percent), line pipe (up 69 percent), hot dipped galvanized sheet and strip (up 46 percent), reinforcing bar (up 41 percent) and hot rolled sheets (up 19 percent).

In commenting on the April 2011 SIMA data, Thomas J. Gibson, AISI president and CEO, stated that, “Finished steel imports in the month of April rose to a pre-recession level and were the highest in 27 months, as import market share increased to a 9-month high. Meanwhile, the recovery is still fragile and domestic steel production, shipments and demand – while improving – remain well below pre-recession levels. These rising import levels are a concern, and strong trade law enforcement remains critical for our industry.”