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Steel imports fall 40 percent in February

Workers unload imported steel coils off of a ship at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor in Portage. The market share for imports shrunk to 23 percent in February.

Steel imports are down by 40 percent so far this year, in a hopeful sign the flood of dumped steel is finally abating, according to the U.S. Commerce Department's most recent Steel Import Monitoring and Analysis.

A tsunami of cheap steel imports captured nearly a third of the U.S. market last year, leading to the idling of East Chicago tin and other mills and thousands of layoffs across the country.

But the United States is now looking at imposing tariffs as high as 266 percent against cold-rolled Chinese steel and a new law is in place that will enable customs agents to stop foreign steelmakers from dumping steel without paying tariffs.

Steel import permit applications totaled 2.28 million net tons in February, a 20 percent decrease from January, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute. Import permit tonnage for finished steel, about 1.8 million tons, fell 16 percent in February as compared to January.

Imports grabbed 23 percent of the market share in February, which is significantly down from last year's all-time record of 29 percent.

So far this year, imports have captured 25 percent of the market share, down from as much as 33 percent last year.

The United States has imported 4.86 million net tons of steel so far in 2016, a 40-percent year-over-year decline. Finished steel imports have fallen 37 percent so far in 2016, to about 4 million net tons.

South Korea, Turkey, Japan, Vietnam and China accounted for the largest shares of U.S. steel imports in February. South Korea has sent the most steel to U.S shores this year, but those imports are down roughly 55 percent as compared to the first two months of last year.

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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.