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Steel Imports Rise Sharply In June

July 30, 1985

PITTSBURGH (AP) _ More than 2.36 million net tons of steel mill products were imported into the United States in June, exceeding import levels of the previous four months, the American Iron and Steel Institute said Tuesday.

June’s imports comprised nearly 28 percent of the U.S. market, the Washington-based institute reported, based on its compilation of Commerce Department figures.

More than 1.7 million net tons of steel mill products were imported in June 1984, or 21.2 percent of the total domestic market, the AISI said.

During the first six months of 1985, imports of steel mill products totaled about 12.98 million net tons, or 26.2 percent of the domestic market.

June’s imports, led by Japan with 629,000 net tons, were higher than expected by the domestic industry, which had anticipated ″substantial movement downward″ as a result of President Reagan’s import restraint program announced in December 1984, according to the AISI.

″This extraordinarily high level of imports - nine full months after the president’s steel import program came into effect last Oct. 1 - is a substantial cause of the American steel industry’s crisis,″ said AISI Chairman Donald H. Trautlein, who also serves as chairman of Bethlehem Steel Corp.

Trautlein said ″immediate″ steps must be taken so imports comprise no more than 18.5 percent of the domestic market, the amount cited by the president’s program.

″We have always been aware that a five-year program of this kind takes time to put in place and achieve its intended results,″ Trautlein said in a prepared statement. ″But it was our expectation, based on the government’s own predictions, that there would by now be some very substantial movement downward toward the 18.5 percent level. This has not materialized.″

Trautlein said import arrangements between the United States and other countries must be enforced ″in the most rigorous possible manner.″ In addition, major suppliers to the U.S. market which are not currently subject to such arrangements must be brought into the import restraint system, he said.

The American Institute for Imported Steel Inc., meanwhile, called the Commerce Department’s report of June imports ″statistically distorted.″

″Since the overall trend of steel imports has been declining and is expected to continue to do so, we believe the Commerce Department report for June is statistically distorted above its real level,″ said AIIS President Fred Lamesch.

The New York-based AIIS is comprised of the 70 leading steel importers in the United States that handle about 70 percent of the tonnage exported to America annually.

″Because they were ordered late in 1984, June 1985 steel imports reflect especially heavy buying to avoid steel import restraints and benefit from the strong U.S. dollar,″ Lamesch said.

Lamesch said the full impact of the voluntary restraint agreement has not yet been seen ″since there is up to a six-month gap between steel import orders and deliveries.″

″This may not show until August or later,″ he said. ″It must be understood large imports will be followed by smaller imports later as quota ceilings are reached under the U.S. restraint plan.″

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