China imports at highest level since August 2007

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 June totaled 2,533,000 net tons (NT).

This was a 1 percent increase from the 2,514,000 permit tons recorded in May 2008, and a 3 percent increase from the May preliminary imports total of 2,451,000 NT. Import permit tonnage for finished steel in June was 2,075,000 NT, an increase of 4 percent from the preliminary imports total of 1,998,000 NT in May. For the first six months of 2008 (including June SIMA and May preliminary), total steel imports were 15,684,000 NT, down 12 percent from the 17,822,000 NT imported in the first half of last year. Total steel imports for 2008 would annualize at 31.4 million NT, or 6 percent below the 2007 12-month total.

For June 2008, the largest finished steel import permit applications for offshore countries were for China (359,000 NT), Korea (196,000 NT), Japan (130,000 NT), and Germany (107,000 NT).

Finished steel import permit applications for China increased 25 percent in June compared to May preliminary imports and were the highest monthly total since August of 2007. Product categories that increased in June vs. May preliminary include: Wire Rods (up percent 48 percent), Hot Rolled Bars (up 40 percent), Standard Pipe (up 41 percent), Oil Country Goods (up 21 percent) and Line Pipe (up 16 percent). Products that showed a significant year-to-date increase vs. 2007 include: Oil Country Goods (up 25 percent) and Line Pipe (up 16 percent).