Stainless over-capacity

US imports of stainless steel plate increased 26% to 31,179 tons in January–July 2002 compared to 24,817 for the same 2001 period, according to the latest statistical data released by the Specialty Steel Industry of North America (SSINA). Despite increased domestic stainless steel plate consumption, the industry lost even more US market share to imports. Seven-month import penetration was 21%, a 3% increase over last year. (Unless otherwise noted, all comparisons are with the corresponding period in the previous year.) Imports of stainless steel sheet/strip, the industry’s largest product category, increased 8% to 168,766 from 156,048 tons. Import penetration for YTD July 2002 was 17%. Imports of stainless steel bar, stainless steel rod, and stainless steel wire – products covered by the Bush administration’s import relief program that went into effect last March – declined in the first seven months of this year. While the data reflect that YTD July 2002 import penetration for stainless steel bar and rod declined, imports continue to capture a significant chunk of the US market for these products. Specifically, imports of stainless steel bar in January/July 2002 vs. 2001 declined 33%; stainless steel rod, 2%; and stainless steel wire, 5%. Even with the declines, imports got hold of a substantial 41% of the US market for stainless steel bar; stainless steel rod imports captured an even greater 70% market share.

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