Finished steel import permit tons up 33 percent in 2010 vs. 2009

Based on the U.S. Commerce Department’s most recent Steel Import Monitoring and Analysis (SIMA) data, the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) reports that steel import permit applications for the month of December totaled 1,814,000 net tons (NT).

This was a 0.4-percent decrease from the 1,808,000 permit tons recorded in November and a 2-percent increase from the November preliminary imports total of 1,784,000 NT. Import permit tonnage for finished steel in December was 1,445,000 NT, down 3 percent from the preliminary imports total of 1,495,000 NT in November.

Total and finished steel import permit tons for full-year 2010 were 23,870,000 NT and 18,795,000 NT, up 47 percent and 33 percent, respectively, from the 16,215,000 NT and 14,179,000 NT imported in the Great Recession year of 2009.

In December, the largest finished steel import permit applications for offshore countries were for Korea (168,000 NT, up 10 percent from November), Japan (96,000 NT, down 7 percent), Germany (65,000 NT, down 5 percent), China (61,000 NT, down 13 percent) and Australia (47,000 NT, down 20 percent).

Finished steel import market shares for December and for 2010 as a whole were 19 percent and 21 percent, respectively.

Finished steel import permits for major products that registered significant increases in December vs. the November preliminary include cut-length plate (up 32 percent), hot-rolled bar (up 31 percent), line pipe (up 27 percent) and reinforcing bar (up 14 percent).

For full-year 2010 vs. 2009, there were significant increases in import permit for oil country goods (up 49 percent), hot-rolled sheets (up 37 percent) and hot-dipped galvanized sheet and strip (up 36 percent).

In commenting on the December and full-year 2010 SIMA data, Thomas J. Gibson, AISI president and CEO, said in a written statement that, “Notwithstanding a small improvement in December domestic steel production and declining finished steel imports over the last four months, domestic steel capacity utilization in the United States ended the year at only 70 percent, while steel imports in full-year 2010 maintained a 21 percent share of the U.S. market. Looking ahead to 2011, continued improvements in domestic steel market conditions will depend in no small measure on ensuring that U.S. producers are not further injured by surges of dumped and subsidized imports.”