The Steel Industry's Major Concerns: The China Factor and Environmental Standards

According to RNCOS, an industry research firm, in a new market research report titled "US Steel Industry Outlook,” the US produces and consumes about 3% of the world's iron ore output. In 2007, mines in Michigan and Minnesota - the two largest iron ore producers in the country - shipped 95% of the iron ore produced. The weak dollar remains a major challenge for the US steel industry as steel imports are expected to slip down to around 27 million metric tons this year from 30.4 million metric tons in 2007.
The RNCOS report indicates that the energy-related construction market is a potential growth area for the US steel industry. At the global level, overall crude steel production remained high in 2007, but a slowdown was observed in the growth rate of crude steel production from last year. Getting loans and expanding businesses and the housing market has become difficult due to uncertainty in financial markets. This resulted in a decline in apparent steel consumption in 2008.

Although the U.S. imported $2.9 billion in steel mill products, as of October, 2008, a national survey of over 1,000 U.S. voters found that 80 percent of those polled believe that cheap steel from countries where environmental standards and manufacturing requirements are low is a bad thing. The reasons given were increases in global pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and the fact that it creates an unfair advantage for foreign steel producers that domestic steel companies do not have.

The question related to steel, sponsored by the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), was part of the FirstView 2008 National Post Election survey conducted by [email protected]  AISI serves as the voice of the North American steel industry in the public policy arena and advances the case for steel in the marketplace as the material of choice. AISI's member companies represent over 75 percent of both U.S. and North American steel capacity.
The U.S. imported a total of 2,964,000 net tons of steel in October 2008, including 2,344,000 net tons of finished steel, up 1 percent and down 5 percent, respectively, vs. September’s final data. While total and finished steel imports through the first ten months of 2008 are each down 6 percent vs. the same period in 2007, the monthly average for finished steel imports in the most recent 3-month period (August-October 2008) is up 7 percent vs. the monthly average in the previous 3 months (May-July 2008).

Total and finished steel imports on an annualized basis this year are each down 2 percent, respectively, vs. 2007. On an annualized basis, total imports of steel in 2008 would be 32.8 million NT. Thomas J. Gibson, AISI President and CEO said, “Against the backdrop of a severe economic downturn in the U.S. and globally, the unprecedented tonnage of finished steel imports from China in October (713,000 NT) is of extreme concern.”

In October, the largest volume of finished imports from offshore was from China (713,000 NT, up 26% from September). This was 30% of all finished imports. While steel imports from China in the first ten months of 2008 are down 9 percent compared to the same period last year, Chinese imports set a new all time record in October. Much of this tonnage is in high-value products still receiving government export tax rebates. Other major offshore suppliers in September include Korea (167,000 NT, down 32% from Sept.), Japan (132,000, up 5%), Germany (81,000 NT, down 11%), Turkey (72,000 NT, down 33%) and India (65,000 NT, down 59%).

While the import of steel is increasing in the U.S., AISI reported that for the month of September 2008, U.S. steel mills shipped 7,920,000 net tons, a 6.8 percent decrease from the 8,492,000 net tons shipped in September 2007, and a 10.7 percent decrease from the 8,860,000 net tons shipped in the previous month, August 2008.

Precision Castparts Corp.            $8.7 B
United States Steel Corp.              $3.5 B
Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co.         $1.5 B
Valmont Industries, Inc.            $1.4 B
Matthews International Corporat         $1.3 B
Mueller Industries, Inc.            $865.3 M
Mobile Mini, Inc.                $452.9 M
Chart Industries, Inc.                 $271.5 M
Ladish Co., Inc.                $263.8 M
Graham Corp                    $92.2 M
Source: Yahoo Finance

The U.S. Imports of Steel Mill Products / (in $1000)
                                                                           Country    Census Data
                                                                            Sep 2008          Oct 2008        Nov 2008
WORLD-WIDE                                                 $3,739,898     $3,901,029     $2,127,579
CANADA                                                            $612,079           $590,595     $186,081
CHINA                                                                $715,896           $831,750     $538,869
MEXICO                                                              $281,199          $405,102     $68,173
KOREA                                                               $270,196          $208,721     $195,444
JAPAN                                                                $177,613          $263,216     $141,548
UKRAINE                                                           $74,324            $157,907     $47,834
INDIA                                                                   $289,617           $81,880      $108,335
RUSSIA                                                              $82,439              $95,342      $92,224
BRAZIL                                                               $123,925           $122,573     $43,970
GERMANY                                                         $178,892            $168,493    $68,856
AUSTRALIA                                                       $74,127               $57,500      $1,316
TAIWAN                                                              $110,542            $105,105     $59,259
TURKEY                                                             $124,313            $104,026     $160,939
NETHERLANDS                                               $27,773              $80,754        $52,244
THAILAND                                                          $84,968              $19,542        $14,229
U.K.                                                                      $42,183              $68,505        $25,729
FRANCE                                                             $39,742              $49,536         $48,951
ITALY                                                                   $51,194              $72,824         $39,126
SWEDEN                                                            $55,021              $69,637        $51,265
LUXEMBOURG                                                  $32,442              $24,090        $4,313
AUSTRIA                                                             $35,644               $37,690       $12,462
SPAIN                                                                  $33,842               $31,297       $35,054

SOURCE: US Department of Commerce, Import Administration, Table last modified on: November 18, 2008.  
Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07