Imports of steel-mill products to the United States reached 4.4 million net tons in August, setting a new record high yet again, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI). In fact, April through August 1998 represent the five highest individual monthly totals for steel imports in U.S. history, with the August figure representing a 78% increase from the August figure of a year ago, the organization reports. "The August figures clearly demonstrate the unprecedented level of steel being dumped into the U.S. market," says AISI President and CEO Andrew G. Sharkey III. "Each week a growing number of companies are announcing either layoffs, slow-downs, or plant shut-downs as the industry attempts to deal with this crushing, unprecedented level of imports." Imports of steel-mill products for the first eight months of 1998 are 24% ahead of steel imports in the first eight months of 1997, and numerous countries are contributing to the surging import figures. For example, on a year-to-date basis, imports are up 141% from Japan, up 96% from Korea, up 387% from Indonesia, up 29% from Russia's record pace of last year, up 160% from Australia, and up 124% from South Africa. The biggest contributors to August's record imports are the European Union, at 714,000 net tons; Japan, at 616,000 net tons; and Russia, at 568,000 net tons. The United States exported 415,000 net tons of steel-mill products in August. AISI reports the monthly steel-mill products imports based on data released by the Commerce Dept.