If current trends continue, the United States could set a record for the amount of steel imported in one year, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group for the North American steel industry.
For the first half of 2006, overall steel imports are up 33% and finished steel imports are up 32% compared with the same period last year. In June the United States imported nearly 3.4 million net tons of steel, including 2.9 million net tons of finished steel. That's down 14.4% and 9.2% respectively from May.
Two key products with large increases in June compared with the previous month include tin plate steel, up 53%, and wire rods, up 50%.
AISI is calling for tighter enforcement of trade laws to keep the U.S. steel industry competitive.
"The first-half import totals come against the backdrop of continued state support of steel capacity offshore, including the massive expansion of steel capacity that we see in China and the rest of Asia," said Louis Schorsch, president and CEO of Mittal Steel USA and chairman of AISI, in a prepared statement. "A revitalized, globally competitive American steel industry urges continued close vigilance of imports and strong trade law enforcement to ensure market-based outcomes."