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AIIS: Steel Imports Drop in August

Written by Sandy Williams

AIIS reports that steel imports in August  dropped a significant 8.2 percent from July to total 3.02 million tons. The biggest reductions were seen in imports from the EU, Mexico and China.  AIIS says the decline in steel purchase is a harbinger of slower growth for construction and the economy.  The press release from AIIS follows:

Falls Church, VA. October 2, 2015. Steel imports dropped significantly in August, and the year-to-date total is now trending behind 2014, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Imports fell 8.2 percent from July and 18.5 percent from August 2014 to 3.02 million net tons, with imports from the European Union, Mexico and China driving the overall decline. Steel imports from the European Union shrank 26.3 percent month-to-month and 33.5 percent from the previous August to 390,000 net tons. Mexico and China had similar tonnage decreases: 36.9 percent from July and 33.4 percent from August 2014 to 217,000 net tons for Mexico; 44.5 percent from July and 30.9 percent from the previous August to 158,000 net tons for China. A few countries increased their shipments of steel to the United States in August, including Brazil, up 24.8 percent to 517,000 net tons (64.1 percent above August 2014); Japan, up 34.7 percent to 242,000 net tons (2.6 percent below August 2014); and Canada, up 5 percent to 508,000 net tons (2.2 percent above August 2014).

With August’s decrease, the year-to-date import total of 28.02 million net tons was 2.2 percent below the total for the first eight months of last year. Imports from Russia showed the most significant decrease, dropping 55 percent to 1.42 million net tons, while imports from Mexico fell nearly 21 percent to 1.94 million net tons. Imports from Brazil, however, spiked more than 21 percent to 3.76 million net tons, while imports from Turkey jumped 54.7 percent to 2.02 million net tons.

Semifinished imports declined 35.8 percent from August 2014 to August 2015 to 577,000 net tons, and the total through the first eight months of the year was down 54.3 percent to 3.29 million net tons.

In October 2014, the United States imported 4.4 million net tons of steel. In the 10 months that followed, imports declined fairly regularly and, in August, they were nearly a third below that total. Economic indicators are often mixed, with various data indicating different trends, and it can be hard to get a sense of where the economy is going. This data point, though, seems pretty clear. Even in the Information Age, steel is an essential component of economic growth. When companies steadily decrease their purchases of steel, it is a clear sign that we are not seeing the pickup in construction and other indicators of expansion that are necessary for a stable, sustained recovery.

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