Total steel import permits decrease 3 percent

Based on the Commerce Department’s most recent Steel Import Monitoring and Analysis (SIMA) data, the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) reported on May 6 that steel import permit applications for the month of April totaled 1,968,000 net tons (NT).

This was a 3-percent decrease from the 2,027,000 permit tons recorded in March and no change from the March preliminary imports total of 1,971,000 NT. Import permit tonnage for finished steel in April was 1,597,000 NT, a 5-percent decrease from the 1,679,000 permit tons recorded in March and a 2-percent increase from the March preliminary imports total of 1,568,000 NT.

Finished steel import market share in April is estimated at 20-percent (vs. less than 15 percent in August of last year). March total and finished steel import permit tons would annualize at 21,548,000 NT and 17,018,000 NT, up 33 percent and 20 percent, respectively, from the 16,215,000 NT and 14,179,00 NT imported in 2009.

In April, the largest finished steel import permit applications for offshore countries were for Korea (168,000 NT, up 54 percent from March), Japan (91,000 NT, down 33 percent), Turkey (87,000 NT, up 77 percent), Germany (81,000 NT, down 2 percent) and China (56,000 NT, down 3 percent).

Finished steel import permits for major product categories that registered significant increases in April vs. the March preliminary include sheet and strip all other metallic coated (up 91 percent), reinforcing bar (up 97 percent), heavy structural shapes (up 77 percent), line pipe (up 25 percent), plates in coils (up 19 percent), and cut length plates (up 18 percent).

“Our primary concern regarding steel imports is the fact that with domestic capacity utilization still lagging below 75 percent, we nevertheless see imports claiming 20 percent of market share,” Thomas J. Gibson, AISI president and CEO, said, commenting on the April SIMA data. “We continue to monitor very closely the import numbers and urge our government to be vigilant regarding any surges of unfairly traded steel into the U.S. market.”