Brazilian mills on edge as they fight an uphill battle

Oct 01, 2010 | 05:43 AM | Juan Weik

SAO PAULO, Brazil Steel imports are a recent trend for Brazil, but volumes have been growing so relentlessly over the past few years that they are by far the main cause of apprehension among local steelmakers.

Brazilian government figures show that imports of flat carbon steel products have increased fivefold from some 275,000 tonnes in 2005 to 470,000 tonnes in 2006, 865,000 tonnes in 2007 and 1.37 million tonnes last year. And in the first half of this year the volume reached a surprisingly high 1.88 million tonnes, according to the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Trade, representing nearly 25 percent of the 7.8 million tonnes (including stainless flat products) produced by local mills in the same period.

Data compiled by the Brazilian steel institute, Instituto Aço Brasil (IABr), shows even more alarming numbers. Overall steel imports totaled 2.73 million tonnes valued at $2.4 billion in the first half of this year, up nearly 84 percent by volume and 61 percent by value from the 1.49 million tonnes valued at $1.48 billion in the same period last year. IABr expects imports to total some 4.2 million tonnes this year. For 2009 as a whole, imports reached 2.33 million tonnes—led by cold-rolled coil (323,869 tonnes), hot-rolled coil (286,071 tonnes), heavy plate (235,899 tonnes) and hot-dip galvanized sheet (231,330 tonnes)—valued at $2.8 billion.....

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