Total steel imports increased 12% in March, from 2.41 million metric tons in February 2007 to 2.71 million metric tons, according a report from the U.S. Department of Commerce released April 24.
Imports of hot-rolled steel, an essential product for many metalforming companies, increased by 23% in March to 223,381 metric tons.Cold-rolled imports also rose, although not as sharply, by 7% , from February 2007 levels to 178,517 metric tons in March 2007. Total steel imports in 2007 remain substantially below 2006 year-to-date levels.
"With steel prices on the rise again in the U.S., appropriate levels of imports are essential to meet market demand and to assure that the steel marketplace is at a globally competitive level. Inventories of flat-rolled metals at service centers are now at a normal three-month level for the first time since last summer, so it is important that any demand increases are met with higher imports and increased domestic production," said William E. Gaskin, Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) President.
Gaskin pointed out that U.S. prices are now higher than most of the rest of the world. "It is essential that American steel consumers have access to steel at globally-competitive prices if they in turn are to remain globally competitive."
Gaskin and more than 50 PMA members were in Washington, D.C. today to lobby Congress on PMA's priority issues, including the bi-partisan legislation HR 1127, the American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act (AMCA), introduced by Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) and Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI). The legislation would allow small and medium-sized manufacturers, which are currently left out of the process when the government decides whether to place tariffs on vital raw materials, to participate in cases before the Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission.