Already struggling with a flat economy and weak demand, US specialty steel producers lost additional domestic market share to imports in the first eight months of this year compared to same 2002 period, according to data released today by the Specialty Steel Industry of North America (SSINA). SSINA Chairman Paul A. Kelly said: âThis latest data confirm what we have been telling the Bush Administration, that weak market conditions and depressed demand have made it even more difficult to make-up for lost time. It would be a terrible mistake to reverse course now before we have been able to fully recover from years of unfair trade.â? Mr Kelly was referring to a recent letter to President Bush from the steel industry urging that the import relief programme remain intact for the full three-year term. The steel tariff programme, which covers three of the seven specialty steel product lines (stainless steel bar, rod and wire), was implemented in March 2002. Total specialty steel imports captured 26% US market share in YTD August 2003, up two percentage points year-on-year. While imports went up 1% to 449,415 tons, US consumption slid to 1,731,960 tons. Specialty steel product lines comprise stainless steel (the industryâs largest category), alloy tool steel and electrical steel. Total stainless steel imports and consumption both dropped 6%, with import penetration remaining the same year-on-year. Imports declined to 332,637 tons and consumption to 1,420,347 tons. Eight-month import penetration remained unchanged, with imports capturing almost one-quarter─23%─of the US market.