September steel imports up 15 percent over August

Based on preliminary Census Bureau data, the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) reported that the United States imported a total of 2,921 ,000 net tons (NT) of steel in September 2008, including 2,428,000 NT of finished steel (up 15 percent and 18 percent, respectively, vs. August final data).

While total and finished steel imports through the first 9 months of 2008 are down 7 percent and 8 percent, respectively, vs. the same period in 2007, the monthly average for finished steel imports in the most recent 3-month period (July-September 2008) is up 5 percent vs. the monthly average in the previous 3 months (April-June 2008). Total and finished steel imports on an annualized basis this year are each down 3 percent, respectively, vs. 2007. On an annualized basis, total imports of steel in 2008 would be 32.4 million NT. ­

Key products with a large increase in September compared to the month before are All Other Coated Sheet and Strip (up 73 percent), Plates in Coils (up 51 percent), Line Pipe (up 48 percent), Oil Country Goods (up 46 percent) and Hot Dipped Galvanized Sheet and Strip (up 34 percent). For the year-to-date in 2008, products with significant increases vs. the same period in 2007 include Oil Country Goods (up 58 percent), Line Pipe (up 12 percent), Hot Rolled Sheet (up 9 percent) and Hot Rolled Bars (up 8 percent).

In September, the largest volume of finished imports from offshore was from China (567,000 NT, up 15 percent from August). This was 23 percent of all finished imports and equal to the entire monthly tonnage from Canada and Mexico. While steel imports from China in the first 9 months of 2008 are down 21 percent compared to the same period last year, Chinese imports for the most recent 3-month period (July-September) are up 69 percent vs. the prior 3 months (April-June). Much of this tonnage is in high-value products still receiving government export tax rebates.

Other major offshore suppliers in September include Korea (246,000 NT, up 46 percent from August), India (157,000, up 193 percent), Japan (121,000 NT, down 30 percent), Turkey (107,000 NT, up 730 percent) and Germany (92,000 NT, up 25 percent).