Preliminary data issued by the U.S. Department of Commerce shows a decrease in overall steel imports of 18 percent last month from the prior month’s levels, from 2.7 metric tons in April to 2.22 million metric tons in May. Imports of hot-rolled steel - the product used most frequently by metalforming companies - declined by 7 percent from April levels, to 232,052 metric tons in May. Cold-rolled imports increased in May, up 10 percent from April to 123,509 metric tons. Total steel imports to date in 2008 are 11 percent lower than they were at this time in 2007.
Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) (www. metalformingadvocate.org) president William E. Gaskin called May’s decline in steel imports further affirmation of a long-term downward trend that presents an ongoing source of concern for U.S. steel consuming industries hoping for relief from record high steel prices.
“PMA members, whose businesses depend on access to reliable quantities of raw materials at reasonable costs, have grappled with a tough price climate for many months with little or no relief in sight,” Gaskin said. “Continued soft steel imports along with low service center inventories may present an availability issue for metalforming companies that need specialized material for certain processes. While business conditions among many North American manufacturers are soft, if there were a spike in demand, we could see significant shortages and even higher prices.”
Raw material prices, market access and other issues facing the global metalforming industry today will be the focus at the International Council of Sheet Metal Presswork Associations (ICOSPA) Congress, to be held on September 14-17, 2008 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. ICOSPA is comprised of national trade associations representing metalforming industries in Europe, Asia and North America. Hundreds of metalforming industry executives are expected to attend the Congress, which will be held in the U.S. for the first time since 1993.