StatWatch: April 2009 U.S. Stone Imports

Stone imports seem to be hitting some constant levels on a month-to-month basis, with some small increases from January and February. The bad news: Value and tonnage totals for this April are down by 30%-50% from the same time last year.
The following is taken from data collected by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission. All figures give are for April 2009 (data from April 2008 in parentheses). “Worked” stone is material that’s been shorn from boulders and blocks, and then cut in standard dimensional measures (such as slabs and tiles) and polished.

Worked Granite Value
Total: $57.9 million (-45.7%)
Sector leader: China @ $18.4 million (-21.72%)
Backfill: China continues to lose the least of granite’s Big Four exporters to the U.S. market; Brazil’s $18.1 million ran a close second, but that’s a -52.5% drop from April 2008. India’s and Italy’s declines from April 2008 were 48.9% and 64.3%, respectively. Only one country managed to get more into the United States: Canada, with $2.8 million representing a 1.95% boost.

Worked Granite Volume
Total: 103,390 metric tons (-54.72%)
Sector leader: Brazil @ 45,922 metric tons (9.37%)
Backfill: Yes, that’s a positive number with Brazil, with a nice boost in tonnage and the largest monthly shipments for the country since last November. Unfortunately, it’s also the only bright spot in this category. Italy fared the worst, with its 4,647 metric tons showing a drop of 86.61% from April 2008.

Worked Marble Value
Total: $24.4 million (-39.19%)
Sector leader: Italy @ $6.5 million (-36.29%)
Backfill: China made the softest landing, with its $3.9 million showing a 22.36% decline. Spain continued its free-fall, dropping 69.3% with its $2.7 million.

Worked Marble Volume
Total: 13,254 metric tons (-32.24%)
Sector leader: Italy @ 3,990 metric tons (-23.45%)
Backfill: Italy barely edged out China’s 3,964 metric tons, but China’s total represented only a 9.68% decline from April 2008. Nobody, however, took it on the chin like Israel, where exports to the United States went from 1,319 metric tons in April 2008 to 135 tons a year later – a dive of 89.76%.

Travertine Value
Total: $19.9 million (-38.12%)
Sector leader: Turkey @ $12.2 million (-39.13%)
Backfill: As Turkey goes, so does U.S. travertine imports – and, right now, that’s down by nearly 40 percent. China showed a modest 5.63% gain from last April, but that’s with only $825,000 of goods. Peru’s small boom is on hold; the value of its travertine shipments here fell by slightly more than half.

Travertine Volume
Total: 40,070 metric tons (-30.99%)
Sector leader: Turkey @ 28,818 metric tons (-33.4%)
Backfill: Turkey shipped less travertine to the United States than in April 2008, but tonnage has been relatively constant since last November. The total tonnage in U.S. travertine imports is affected, however, by 1,637 metric tons attributed to a country simply noted as “United” (and there’s already a separate, smaller entry for the United Arab Emirates).

Other Calcareous Value

Total: $9.7 million (-46.11%)
Sector leader: China @ $1.3 million (74.39%)
Backfill: This category remains the market of international intrigue, with low values from most countries enabling China to grab the market lead. (That $1.3 million from this April would’ve placed China in fifth – barely – a year ago.) Italy, the top country by nearly two-to-one from its nearest competitor in April 2008, saw its exports to the United States fall this April by 70.7%. Other big drops: Lebanon (-67.34%) and Israel (-66.83%).

Slate Value
Total: $5.4 million (-21.68%)
Sector leader: China @ $2.4 million (-23.73%)
Backfill: China and India switch off the lead nearly every month for supplying slate to the United States. This month, it’s China, but it’s still shipping more than 20% less than a year ago.

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