Steel imports remained at low levels again in March increasing only 1.2% over February. Import arrivals in March were ordered from non-NAFTA countries late in 2007 and reflect weak conditions for imports during that time frame. ‘With the recent surprising run up in prices, those who received imports in March probably are benefiting by having missed some of the price increases,’ said David Phelps, president, AIIS. ‘The 29.1% increase in imports from Canada so far this year, notwithstanding the strength of the Canadian dollar, shows the strength of current market conditions in the US. Because the US market needs more steel than the domestic industry can produce and in the current context of much higher prices, we expect conditions to improve on the ordering side as we move through the second quarter,’ concluded Phelps.

Total Steel imports in March 2008 were 2.513 million tons compared to 2.483 million tons in February 2008, a 1.2% increase, but a 17.4% decrease compared to March 2007. According to year-to-date figures, imports decreased 11.5% compared to 2007 or from 8.655 million tons in 2007 to 7.663 million tons in 2008. The data show that imported semifinished products decreased by 16.2% in March 2008 as compared to March 2007. For the year-to-date period, semifinished imports decreased from 1.596 million tons in 2007 to 1.467 million tons in 2008, an 8.1% decrease, based on preliminary reporting.