May 5, 2009 May 5, 2009 – 1:48 pm-->By Alan Field Breakbulk from the Journal of Commerce
Shipping near record low, says industry group
The United States imported a total of 1.5 million net tons of steel in March, the American Iron and Steel Institute reported, based on preliminary Census Bureau data. Imports of this breakbulk cargo included 1.437 million net tons of finished steel, down 3 percent from February.
Precision Metalforming Association President William E. Gaskin said, “The continuing fall in steel imports in March is not a surprise given the lingering sluggishness in the U.S. manufacturing sector, which has had a real impact on our members. According to PMA’s most recent survey of business conditions, the number of metal forming companies with a portion of their workforce on short time or layoffs increased to 85 percent in April, up from 76 percent in March. And while optimism about expectations for new orders has risen over the past few months, current shipping levels remain near record lows.”
China dominates imports
In March, the largest volume of finished imports from offshore was from China (196,000 net tons, down 28 percent from February). The March tonnage from China was 14 percent of all finished imports. Other major offshore suppliers in March were Korea, Japan, and India.
March imports of hot-rolled steel dropped seven percent from February’s levels, from 152,983 to 141,792 metric tons. Cold-rolled steel imports also declined, from 111,625 metric tons in February to 96,236 metric tons in March, a drop of 14 percent.
Key products that increased in March compared to February included reinforcing bars (up 155 percent), mechanical tubing (up 46 percent), hot dipped galvanized sheet & strip (up 28 percent), line pipe (up 24 percent) and standard pipe (up 24 percent).