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Steel import permit applications fall 10.8% in May

Longshoremen work to unload coils of steel from the hold of the Federal in the Port of Indiana Burns Harbor in this file photo. Finished steel imports captured 18% of the market share in May.

The United States received steel import permit applications for 2.58 million tons in May, according to the U.S. Commerce Department's most recent Steel Import Monitoring and Analysis data.

That's 10.8% less than the 2.89 million permit tons in April and 21.9% less than the 3.3 million tons of steel imported in April.

The United States got import permit applications for 1.8 million tons of finished steel in May, which was down 10.1% as compared to the previous month, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute. That accounts for 18% of the overall U.S. market share.

In May, imports of sheets and strip all other metallic coatings were up by 113%, heavy structural shapes by 90%, reinforcing bars by 69%, hot rolled bars by 20%, standard pipe by 12%, and tin plate by 12%. Imports of line pipe have risen by 11% so far this year.

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With Section 232 tariffs of 25% on most foreign-made steel, save from Canada and Mexico, imports have captured 21% of the U.S. market share so far this year, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

For the first five months of the year, the United States has imported 14 million tons of steel, down 8.6% as compared to the same period in 2018. Imports of finished steel products that require no further processing in the United States, such as at the steel service centers at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor, total 9.8 million tons, an 18.8% decline as compared to the first five months of last year.

South Korea, Japan, and Germany have been the top offshore suppliers of steel to the United States this year. In May, imports were up 8% from South Korea, down by 22% from Japan, and down 46% from Germany.

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.