August 2008 steel imports down from July

Based on preliminary Census Bureau data, the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) reported that the United States imported a total of 2,346,000 net tons (NT) of steel in August 2008, including 1,958,000 NT of finished steel (down 19 percent and 13 percent, respectively, vs. July final data).

While total and finished steel imports through the first eight months of 2008 are down 11 percent and 12 percent, respectively, vs. the same period in 2007, the monthly average for finished steel imports in the most recent 3-month period (June-August 2008) is up 1 percent vs. the monthly average in the previous 3 months (March-May 2008). Total and finished steel imports on an annualized basis this year are down 4 percent and 5 percent, respectively, vs. 2007.

A key product with a large increase in August compared to the month before is Hot Rolled Bars (up 17 percent). For the year-to-date in 2008, products with significant increases vs. the same period in 2007 include Oil Country Goods (up 42 percent), Line Pipe (up 10 percent) and Hot Rolled Bars (up 9 percent).

In August, the largest volume of finished steel imports from offshore was from China (485,000 NT, up 37 percent from July). While steel imports from China in the first eight months of 2008 are down 30 percent compared to the same period last year, Chinese imports for the most recent 3-month period (June-August) are up 70 percent compared to the prior 3 months (March-May). Much of this tonnage is in high-value steel products still receiving government export tax rebates (e.g., OCTG, line pipe and hot-dipped galvanized sheet). Other major offshore suppliers in August include Japan (171,000 NT, up 13 percent from July), South Korea (166,000 NT, down 35 percent), Germany (69,000 NT, down 35 percent) and Ukraine (60,000, up 34 percent).