Despite the announcement earlier this year of President Bush’s import relief programme, year-to-date US imports of total stainless steel increased 2% through August 2002 compared to the same 2001 period, according to the latest data released by the Specialty Steel Industry of North America (SSINA). Stainless steel imports, which initially dropped after the March announcement, have been building since May and rebounded to 49,825 tons in August from April’s low of 37,373 tons. By product line, stainless steel plate was the hardest hit with a 39% spike in imports year over year. According to SSINA Chairman H.L. Kephart, “Stainless plate imports captured 22% of the US market for the cumulative period. On a monthly basis, August imports of stainless steel plate soared to 7450 tons, the highest level since the year 2000. This is a disturbing statistic and the industry plans to keep a close eye on several countries.” Kephart said that among the major sources of foreign stainless steel plate, imports from Belgium, Germany, Brazil and Taiwan increased.