Imports take their toll on US specialty steel producers in spite of surge in demand

Despite a healthy rise in demand for specialty steel and its individual product lines, imports tightened their grip on United States market share in the first seven months of 2004.

Data released by the Specialty Steel Industry of North America (SSINA) reflect that US specialty steel consumption increased 8% to 1,641,864 tons in January through July 2004 compared with the same 2003 period. The gain, however, did not offset a 14% year-on-year hike in imports to 449,187 tons. Consequently, domestic specialty steel producers lost 27% US market share to imports, a one percentage point increase year- on-year. (Total specialty steel comprises stainless steel, electrical steel, and tool steel.)

Demand for stainless steel, the industry's largest product category, rose 11% to 1,381,436 tons year-on-year. Imports, however, spiked 19% to 353,191 tons, pushing seven-month import penetration up two percentage points to 26%.

Stainless steel sheet/strip consumption climbed 12% to 1,021,377 tons year-on-year. Imports surged 21% to 215,871 tons. Seven-month import penetration for stainless steel sheet/strip inched ahead one percentage point to 21%.

While domestic demand for stainless steel plate rose 8% to 174,803 tons year on year, imports advanced 53% to 43,642 tons. Imports took a 25% bite out of the US market, a seven percentage point gains over YTD July 2003.

Stainless steel bar consumption was up 5% to 115,414 tons year-on-year. Imports moved ahead 1% to 44,590 tons, capturing 39% US market share.

While US consumption of stainless steel rod gained 21% to 51,245 tons, imports still claimed almost half of the US market. Stainless steel rod imports rose 6% to 25,116 tons year on year; seven-month import penetration was 49%.

  • Imports of stainless steel wire climbed 18% to 23,972 tons.

  • Imports of alloy tool steel decreased 5% to 50,282 tons.

Electrical steel imports fell year-on-year, as did US consumption. Imports declined 2% to 45,714 tons year on year. US consumption dropped 4% to 220,842 tons. Import penetration rose one percentage point to 21 %.

TAGS: Fabrication
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