Tariffs and a weaker dollar dampened steel imports last year, according to preliminary Census Bureau data reported by the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI). Imports of steel totaled 23,013,000 net tons, down 29.6% from 2002. Finished steel imports were down 23.7%. AISI reported that President Bush's steel tariff program, which he stopped in the fall; a decline in the U.S. dollar value; a more consolidated and stronger U.S. steel industry; and rising steel prices elsewhere made imports less attractive in 2003. Steel prices are on the rise, with a ton of hot-rolled steel inching toward $400. In the early winter, prices were closer to $320 a ton. AISI states, however, that prices remain below the 20-year average of $449 per ton.