LOS ANGELES Six
years after a controversy over Chinese structural steel tubing
hit U.S. shores, market sources wonder what kind of reception
an aggressively priced offer of more than 1,600 tonnes of
structural shapes is receiving in three major U.S. import
priced substantially below domestic levels were first offered
last month by an East Coast importer, according to sources, who
said the initial shipment was due to arrive in Houston on Oct.
1 and subsequent shipments are scheduled to arrive in Long
Beach, Calif., and Philadelphia in November.
For many structural
buyers the country of origin is a problem. While it wasnt
identified in the offering, industry sources said they have
been told the material is from China, whose reputation in
structurals continues to suffer from an earlier scandal over
allegedly substandard product.
Efforts to reach the
reported importer for comment were unsuccessful, and it
isnt known what kind of response the offer received or if
the steel actually is arriving.
In 2007, China almost
overnight lost its role as the lowest-priced source of
structural tubing, or hollow structural sections (HSS), in some
coastal U.S. markets following allegationsreportedly
originating in the domestic HSS industrythat some
material didnt meet the A500 Grade B specifications under
which it was sold.
quickly spread beyond the steel industry to local television
news reports, while investigations were launched and hearings
held in some states and Congress about the impact of the
problematic steel on public works projects (
amm.com, Sept. 14, 2007).
Some large service
center chains, which observers saw as the most legally
vulnerable link in the supply chain, almost immediately
segregated their Chinese tubing and cut off purchases.
Today, while such
Chinese products as cold-rolled coil are an ongoing factor in
the U.S. market, "almost everyone has No Chinese
printed somewhere on their purchase orders" from end-users of
structural steel, including both private fabricators and public
agencies, said a source at one distributor about the lingering
impact of the 2007 scandal.
Sources said it
appears that domestic mills arent particularly troubled
by the offer, given the marketplaces past experience with
HSS. In fact, more than one observer remarked that the most
frequent reaction to anyone hoping to find acceptance for a
substantial amount of Chinese structurals seems to be "good
The initial arrival
due Oct. 1 in Houston of five sizes of 8- x 8-inch angles in
40-foot lengths ranging from ½-inch to 1-inch was priced
at $44.95 per hundredweight ($899 per ton), f.o.b. loaded
truck, approximately $200 per ton under the published domestic
f.o.b. mill price in Houston, including freight charges, a
market source said.
A shipment due to
arrive in Philadelphia between Nov. 25 and 30, involving four
sizes of 8- x 8-inch angles in 40-foot lengths from
½-inch to 1-inch, is priced at $45.95 cwt to $47.95 cwt
($919 to $959 per ton), while the remaining shipment due in
Long Beach on Nov. 1 involves six sizes of 8- x 8-inch angles
and three sizes of 5- x 3-inch angles.
In addition, for the
first quarter the trader is said to be adding 8- x 6-inch and
7- x 4-inch angles, a "full range" of 1-inch through
6-inch channels and 4-inch through 15-inch channels, with
the 8-inch through 15-inch range arriving in December.
Editor's note: This story was updated Oct. 16. Due to a
reporting error the difference between the price of the
material that arrived in Houston Oct. 1 and the published
domestic f.o.b. mill price in Houston was incorrect. The
$44.95 per hundredweight f.o.b. loaded truck price for the five
sizes of 8- x 8-inch angles in 40-foot lengths ranging
from ½-inch to 1-inch was approximately $200 per ton
under the published domestic f.o.b. mill price in
Houston, including freight charges.