As the U.S. Department of Commerce starts slapping tariffs on steel dumpers, imports are finally starting to fall.

Preliminary steel imports plunged by 23 percent in November, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

The United States imported 2.3 million net tons in November, which is down 22.7 percent as compared to October. Finished steel imports fell 15.6 percent in November to 1.9 million net tons.

Cut length plate imports rose 42 percent in November, and oil country tubular goods rose by 12 percent. 

Imports captured 25 percent of the overall market share in November, the lowest it's been all year. Foreign-made steel has attained a record 29 percent market share so far this year, leading to layoffs and mill idlings nationwide.

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Last year, cheap imports, which are often subsidized by foreign governments, took a record 28 percent of the market share in the United States. Service centers, some of the largest buyers of steel, have said they would prefer to buy American but if they don't buy a certain amount of cheap imports they will be beat by competitors on price.

So far this year, the United States has imported 36.2 million tons of steel, an 11 percent decrease as compared to the same period in 2014. Finished steel imports total 29.3 percent, a 5 percent decline.

Reinforcing bar, standard pipe, line pipe and wire drawn imports have all risen by double digits.

Imports are on pace to reach 39.6 million tons this year, including 32 million tons of finished steel products that don't require any further processing at finishing lines or steel centers in the United States.

To put that number in perspective, U.S. steelmakers typically produce 90 million to 100 million tons of steel a year. 


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.