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Steel import permit application plunge by 40.8% in August

Workers unload steel coil at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor.

After surging in July, steel import permit applications in the United States plummeted by 40.8% year over year to 2.1 million tons in August.

The U.S. Commerce Department’s most recent Steel Import Monitoring and Analysis data showed permit applications fell 29.6% in August as compared to 3 million tons in July, accounting for 19% of the market share. That included 1.76 million tons of finished steel products that would require no further processing in the United States, such as at the 20 service centers and other steel companies based at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor.

Imports of finished steel products were down 4.4% in July as compared to the final import total of 1.84 million tons in July.

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Last month, imports of sheets and strip electrolytic galvanized rose by 99%, black plate by 33%, tin free steel by 32%, cold finished bars by 19%, line pipe by 15%, structural pipe and tubing by 13%, and hot rolled sheets by 11%, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute. Through the first eight months of the year, imports of black plate were up by 110%, steel piling by 49% and tin free steel by 23%.

So far this year, the United States has imported 20.8 million tons of steel, a 13% year-over-year decline as compared to the same period in 2018, according to the Washington, D.C.-based AISI. That includes 15.3 million tons of finished steel, which accounted for 20% of the market share thus far in 2019 and was down by 16% as compared to the first eight months of 2018.

The largest offshore steel suppliers in August, excluding the leading exporters Canada and Mexico, were South Korea, Japan, Germany, Taiwan and The Netherlands. So far this year, imports of steel from South Korea have fallen by 11% to 1.87 million tons. Steel imports declined 2% to 959,000 tons from Japan and 12% to 764,000 tons from Germany last month.

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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.