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Steel imports up 20 percent in 2017

Steel coils await shipment at the Port of Indiana Burns Harbor. Steel imports are up 20 percent so far this year.

Despite promises for a further crackdown on foreign steel, imports remain at historically elevated levels.

The U.S. imported an estimated 3.05 million tons of steel in September, a decrease of 10.3 percent, according to preliminary Census Bureau data.

The American Iron and Steel Institute reported imports of finished steel that would not require further processing in the United States, such as at the steel companies at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor, fell 1.4 percent to 2.43 million tons.

But so far this year, the U.S. has imported 29.6 million tons of steel, a 20-percent increase over the same period in 2016. Imports of finished steel have increased by 15.7 percent to 22.8 million tons.

Finished steel imports grabbed 27 percent of the market share in September, and account for 28 percent of the market share so far this year. That's close to the record 29 percent in 2015 that resulted in thousands of steelworker layoffs across the country.

So far this year, imports of oil country goods are up 255 percent, line pipe 60 percent, standard pipe 45 percent, mechanical tubing 32 percent, cold rolled 28 percent, sheets and strip all other metallic coatings up 26 percent, sheets and strip hot dipped galvanized up 22 percent and hot rolled bars 19 percent.

In September, imports of reinforcing bars rose 85 percent, line pipe 35 percent, tin plate 31 percent, oil country goods 23 percent and plates in coils 11 percent.

The biggest offshore suppliers of steel, excluding Canada, were South Korean, Japan, Germany, Taiwan and Turkey, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute. South Korea sent over the most steel, a total of 321,000 tons in September and 2.9 million tons so far this 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.