Steel imports decline

Based on preliminary Census Bureau data, the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) reported that the United States imported a total of 1,020,000 net tons (NT) of steel in May 2009, including 1,002,000 NT of finished steel (down 17 percent and 11 percent, respectively, vs. April final data). Total and finished steel imports on an annualized basis are down 42 percent and 33 percent, respectively, vs. 2008. Annualized total imports of steel in 2009 would be 18.6 million NT. Finished steel import market share was an estimated 22 percent in May and year-to-date (YTD) through five months is an estimated 29 percent.

US Imports of Finished Steel

Key products with increases in May 2009 compared to April include Reinforcing Bar (up 44 percent), Oil Country Goods (up 23 percent) and Plates-in-Coils (up 21 percent). For YTD 2009 vs. the same period last year, OCTG imports (led by China) are up 30 percent.

In May, the largest volume of finished imports from offshore was from China (148,000 NT, up 49 percent from April). The May tonnage from China was 15 percent of all finished imports and, based on YTD data, finished steel imports from China in 2009 would annualize at 2.8 million NT. Other major offshore suppliers in May were South Korea (118,000 NT, up 66 percent from April), Japan (61,000, down 27 percent) and Taiwan (33,000 NT, down 3 percent). For YTD 2009 vs. the same period last year, finished imports are up significantly for a number of countries – including China (up by 23 percent).