US Steel Imports – What Can We Conclude?

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Steel imports are up slightly 6.9% from May to June 2008. According to Dave Phelps quoted in a recent press release, president of AIIS (American Institute for International Steel), the high prices in the US market for some products “suggest that conditions for imports could improve later in the year.” That and a rising dollar would also provide some relief to steel-buying firms in the US. Earlier today we wrote about China’s trade surplus, unexpectedly increasing again. How did that increase affect overall US steel imports? Interestingly enough, imports increased 20.1 percent from China from May to June though overall, steel imports have dropped 40.0 percent from last year to this year. The month to month changes may be more telling then the year over year changes.

The monthly numbers also show big percentage increases from Brazil, Turkey and the Ukraine. Europe’s numbers were also up by over 13 percent. Though steel imports are dramatically down compared to one year ago, they are up from Canada (26.9%), Mexico (12.1%), Ukraine (11.9%) and India (57.3%). Oddly enough with the exception of the Ukraine, none of the import increases on a monthly basis correspond to increased imports from a yearly basis. Arbitrage opportunities may be the name of the game for now.

But no matter where these steel imports and better prices come from, they are welcomed. They sure aren’t coming from domestic producers!

–Lisa Reisman

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