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Steel imports are down by 35 percent this year

Longshoremen work to remove coils of steel from the hold of the Federal Nakagawa in The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor in 2014. Total steel imports are down 33 percent as compared to the same period in 2015.

As steel tariffs were kicking in, total steel imports fell 35 percent to 9.9 million net tons over the first four months of this year, perhaps providing some relief to battered American steelmakers.

Finished steel imports dropped by 33 percent to 8.4 million net tons over the same period, according to the U.S. Commerce Department’s most recent Steel Import Monitoring and Analysis data. South Korea, Turkey and Japan have been sending the most steel to the United States.

South Korean steel exports to the United States however have been down by 49 percent over the first four months as compared to the same period in 2015, and imports from Turkey have been down by 26 percent over the same period.

A flood of imports have resulted in 13,500 steelworker layoffs last year, and the idling of mills like East Chicago Tin and Granite City Works in Illinois. Imports captured a record 29 percent of the market share last year, more than when most domestic steelmakers went bankrupt and disappeared in the early 2000s.

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In April, steel imports totaled 2.4 million net tons, a 20 percent decrease from March.

The U.S. Commerce Department’s data showed import permit tonnage was 2 million tons in April, a 2 percent decline from March.

However, some segments saw increased imports. Hot-rolled bar imports were up 40 percent in April, and line pipe rose by 30 percent. Cold-rolled sheets, structural pipe and tube and standard pipes were all up by double digits.

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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.