‘Imports plummeted in February both from January 2009 and February 2008 levels, reflecting the sharp decline in import orders after steel demand dried up last fall. The import pipeline has simply become empty.’ Even imports of OCTG, which had been robust due to large price increases announced in late June and September, declined by 47% in February in response to the late 2008 collapse of that market.’ said David Phelps, president, AIIS.’ ‘With inventories at low levels currently, the normally stronger second quarter due to the start of the construction season and some optimism that the banking sector may be on the way to improved liquidity, the question is whether the market will begin a slow recovery some time late in the first half,’ concluded Phelps.

Based on preliminary reporting, total Steel imports in February 2009 were 1.55 million tons compared to 2.37 million tons in January 2009, a 34.5% decrease, and a 37.5% decrease compared to February 2008. According to year-to-date figures, imports decreased 23.9% compared to 2008 or from 5.15 million tons in 2008 to 3.92 million tons in 2009. The data show that imported semifinished products decreased by 80.3% in February 2009 as compared to February 2008. For the year-to-date period, semifinished imports decreased from 1.02 million tons in 2008 to .321 million tons in 2009, a 68.4% decrease, based on preliminary reporting.