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In January, average import customs values for finished
steel in the aggregate were nearly 3 percent below their historic (1980-2000)
averages. At the same time, according to Purchasing Magazine data, January
monthly "spot" prices for hot-rolled sheet remained at their
December number of $300, down from a peak of $400 in July 2002; the
monthly spot prices for cold-rolled sheet also remained at their December
number of $410, down from a peak of $525 in July and August 2002; and
the January 2003 spot price for flat-rolled steel was 10 percent below
the 21-year averages as well as being 5 percent below the 2002 average.
These Purchasing Magazine data tend to lag actual transactions and,
therefore, understate the extent of actual price deterioration in the
U.S. market. According to independent, publicly available sources, as
a result of these historic declines in spot steel prices, the U.S. is
today at the low end of steel prices worldwide -- with hot-rolled sheet
prices in the U.S. now lower than the prices in China, Taiwan, Japan,
India and much of Europe.
Daniel R. DiMicco, vice chairman, president and CEO of Nucor Corporation and chairman of AISI, cautioned against making any broad conclusions with only the first month's import data for 2003 at hand. "The President's program has resulted in a modest decrease in imports in January, but they still remain at historically high levels, particularly when considering the reduced level of demand in the United States. The industry is consolidating and reorganizing in accordance with the President's initiative.
Continued vigilant enforcement of the trade remedies is critical for this industry to emerge successfully when the 201 relief concludes in March, 2005."
"The President's program is absolutely critical to our future," Andrew G. Sharkey, III, AISI President and CEO, said. "The American steel industry is just starting to turn the corner. Even with a slight decline in imports, we are still looking at an annualized import level of nearly 30 million tons in the midst of a weak economy. We support the President and urge him to stand firm and keep the program in place for the full three-years intended."