NEW YORK A rebound in
steel product imports is in the works, according to the Tampa
Port Authority, with a burgeoning domestic real estate sector
and new transportation options lending the market some renewed
"We did feel a significant drop
off (in steel imports) after the real estate bubble burst
during the recession. But weve recently seen some new
products come through the port, which we havent
traditionally seen," Wade Elliott, senior director of marketing
at the Tampa Port Authority, told AMM during the Port
of Tampas 24th Annual Steel Conference. "The market seems
to be moving in a direction now, overall, that were
encouraged about. The outlook is pretty bullish."
The Florida hub traditionally is
a major destination for construction-related steel
productsincluding wire rod and reinforcing baras
well as for hot-rolled coil and pipe. More recently, the port
has seen other products come through, including pipe for the
natural gas industry and aluminum billet from Russia, Elliott
The ports chief executive
told AMM last year that early signs of steel imports
returning to Florida were apparent, particularly as a result of
an uptick in construction as well as container business growth
due to the Panama Canal expansion (
amm.com, Feb. 15, 2012).
"Our steel tonnage was up 19
percent in 2012 vs. 2011. Our import steel products were up 88
percent and our scrap was up 10 percent," Elliott said this
month. "The total (growth) was 19 percent. We also saw an
82-percent increase quarter over quarter in steel."
A major boost to the port this
year will be the scheduled completion of the Interstate
4/Crosstown Connector highway in November. "Itll run
through downtown Tampa (and) part of that project includes a
dedicated truck ramp coming to the port. This will mean that
the thousands of trucks moving in and out of the port every day
wont have to meander their way through residential
neighborhoods. Itll make movement more efficient,"
The port also inaugurated a new
rail terminal with CSX Corp. last fall, which will help the
port deliver product beyond the "traditional customer base" to
"the entire eastern seaboard," he said.
Looking forward, new
infrastructure opportunities, along with a growing construction
market, will mean strong steel volumes ahead, Elliott said. "To
date, weve seen good performance in the first quarter. I
would attribute it to a couple of things. One, the overall
economic recovery. The second is the real estate market and
construction growth in Florida."