Steel output in the United States declined in the final week of March compared with the week before, potentially signaling a stall in the sector’s momentum, which had been characterized by rising output through much of 2017’s first quarter.
The Washington-based American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) has reported domestic steel output of 1.69 million tons in the week ending April 1, 2017. That output figure is down by 1.9 percent compared with the 1.72 million tons produced the week before. The sector’s mill capacity rate also dropped from 72.8 percent the week ending March 25, 2017, to 71.4 percent the following week.
An online report from the Munster, Indiana-based Northwest Indiana Times takes a closer look at the output figures for the AISI’s Great Lakes region.
According to the newspaper, the 657,000 tons of output in the Great Lakes region in the week ending April 1, 2017, was down 1.35 percent from the 666,000 tons produced the week before. The report says it marks the third consecutive week of declining output in the Great Lakes region.
Low-cost steel imports from China continue to receive much of the blame for America’s sub-75 percent mill capacity rate. In its analysis of the month of March 2017, AISI says imported steel accounted for 26 percent of overall U.S. market share, but Turkey, South Korea and Japan were the largest volume shippers of that steel, not China.
As President Trump prepares to meet with China’s President Xi Jinping, eight U.S. senators have sent the president a request to enforce restrictions on low-cost steel imports.
The senators (from Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Pennsylvania and West Virginia) wrote a letter to President Trump April 5, 2017, “to urge [him] to address Chinese steel dumping and overcapacity during your meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping next week.”
The text of the letter, available on the website of Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), also states in part, “China produces half of the world’s steel supply and [its] production is heavily subsidized. The impact of Chinese steel produced with these unfair methods of competition and other illegal practices has profoundly harmful impacts on our national economic health and our nation’s national security interests.”