The American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) reported that steel import permit applications for the month of March totaled 1,416,000 net tons (NT). This was a 15% decrease from the 1,661,000 permit tons recorded in February 2009, and a 9% decrease from the February preliminary imports total of 1,553,000 NT. Import permit tonnage for finished steel in March was 1,353,000 NT, a decrease of 6 percent from the preliminary imports total of 1,443,000 NT in February. March 2009 total and finished steel import permit tons would annualize at 21,348,000 NT and 19,812,000 NT, down 33 and 24%, respectively, from the 31,927,000 NT and 25,956,000 NT imported in 2008.
In March 2009, the largest finished steel import permit applications for offshore countries were for China (155,000 NT), South Korea (126,000 NT), Japan (113,000 NT), India (93,000 NT) and Turkey (77,000 NT). Cumulative tonnage from the top three offshore suppliers (China, South Korea and Japan) accounted for 31% of all finished imports in March, which was equal to the amount from NAFTA countries (32%). Finished steel import market share in March is estimated at close to 30%, remaining at an elevated level in comparison to recent annual import totals.
Major finished steel import products that registered large increases in March vs. the February preliminary include Reinforcing Bar (up 176%), Mechanical Tubing (up 32%), Line Pipe (up 32%), and Standard Rails (up 22%).
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