Travertine and other calcareous stone post import numbers that clearly beat last July. Unfortunately, it’s a different situation with granite.
StatWatch is a snapshot of U.S. dimensional-stone imports, offering a summary and exclusive Stone Business analysis of data from the U.S. International Trade Commission. Comparisons are made mainly on an annual level to gauge market trends. Analysis is made on import figures of the latest month available.
All figures give are for July 2011 (change from July 2010 amounts in parentheses). “Worked” stone is material that’s shorn from boulders and blocks, and then cut in standard dimensional measures (such as slabs and tiles) and polished (at least once, one side). “Value” represents the declared customs value of stone.
WORKED GRANITE VALUE
Total: $99.3 million (-0.4%)
Sector leader: Brazil @ $42.9 million (-3.1%)
Backfill: July and August form the peak of annual granite imports; after a five-month trend of value increases in 2011, the slowdown this July isn’t exactly good news. Of granite’s Big Four, India saves the month with $18.1 million, up 38.7% from last July. Both China ($20.8 million, down 7.1%) and Italy ($10.4 million, down 17.1%) take a tumble.
WORKED GRANITE VOLUME
Total: 125,442 metric tons (-9.2%)
Sector leader: Brazil @ 51,118 metric tons (-19.7%)
Backfill: China and India provide the support for actual granite slab/tile imports. China’s 34,329 metric tons represents a 10.9% lift from last July, and India ramps up 15.4% to 23.023 metric tons. A decade ago, Italy dominated this sector; July’s 8,491 metric tons lags behind last year by 44.1%.
WORKED MARBLE VALUE
Total: $21.5 million (7.5%)
Sector leader: Italy @ $10.4 million (25.4%)
Backfill: Marble import values hold on for July, with Italy posting a major boost. China wavers from a year ago ($3.7 million, down 6.3%), but easily keeps second. A surprising Spain surges to third ($2.4 million, up 15.5%) past a sliding Turkey ($2.2 million, down 13%).
WORKED MARBLE VOLUME
Total: 16,501 metric tons (-4.8%)
Sector leader: Italy @ 5,397 metric tons (1.3%)
Backfill: There’s something about July and marble imports; it’s the month that Italy leads the sector and China drops to second. This year, China does it again with 4,461 metric tons (down 3.3%). Coupled with Turkey’s fall-off (2,096 metric tons, down 10.7%), the two countries essentially account for the sector’s decline from last July.
Total: $25.8 million (10.3%)
Sector leader: Turkey @ $16.7 million (8.8%)
Backfill: Happy times all around here, as the four members of the million-dollar club for import values – Turkey, Mexico, China and Italy – show increases from July 2010. China also breaks out of a 2011 funk with $1.4 million in July, its first million-dollar month since January. Peru posts a respectable $866K, although that’s a $130K drop from the previous month and 18.3% less than last July.
Total: 52,499 metric tons (34.3%)
Sector leader: Turkey @ 35,134 metric tons (25.3%)
Backfill: It’s the best month in more than a year, although the gains from last July come from lopsided shipments. Of the regular leaders, only Turkey and Mexico (8,435 metric tons, up 36.4%) are ahead of the same time in 2010; volume is down drastically from China (-20.6%), Peru (-25.2%) and Italy (-23.0%). The wild card is Canada, with its 5,010 metric tons toting up a 1,485.4% increase from last July. (FYI: Canada’s June 2011 across-the-border shipments of travertine came to an exciting 12 – yes, twelve – metric tons.)
OTHER CALCAREOUS VALUE
Total: $8.1 million (2.3%)
Sector leader: Portugal @ $1.4 million (96.9%)
Backfill: The sector remains volatile; Portugal moves from fourth to first, while Italy, last July’s leader, slips to fifth at $780K (down 36.2%). China keeps second with $1.2 million (up 7.5%), with Spain retaining third at $889K (up 2.2%). France moves up into fourth at $809K with a dramatic 100.2% increase.
OTHER CALCAREOUS VOLUME
Total: 9,946 metric tons (2,8%)
Sector leader: Mexico @ 1,897 metric tons (105.7%)
Backfill: Mexico’s massive shipments to the United States are tapering off, but other countries pick up the slack in July; China’s 1,402 metric tons is 30.7% better than the same time last year, and Portugal makes a 76.1% jump with 1,240 metric tons. The wild card is Pakistan, going from a tally of exactly one metric ton passing through U.S. ports-of-entry this April to July’s 1,065 metric tons (and a 1,110.2% rocket ride from July 2010).
Total: $5.7 million (5.1%)
Sector leader: China @ $2.7 million (-7.3%)
Backfill: Increases in import values from other countries offset China’s down month; second-place India posts $1.8 million in July, up 12.4% from the same time last year. Brazil, still a distant third, still pushes ahead of July 2010 by 14.0% at $531K. Spain provides a surprise with $186K, a 435.5% leap from last July.
OTHER STONE VALUE
Total: $17.5 million (-30.5%)
Sector leader: India @ $5.3 million (-28.6%)
Backfill: Canada continues as this year’s bright spot for this catchall category of stone imports – but when a 1.9% annual increase (at $2.2 million) to retain fourth place among exporters to the U.S. is the sole good news, it’s not exactly uplifting. Second-place Brazil sees the nose dropping a bit more ($4.4 million, down 49.1%) and China slides 12.1% to $2.3 million. Italy turns course again this year, with July’s $1.1 million translating to a 37.3% decline.
OTHER STONE VOLUME
Total: 19,979 metric tons (-37.0%)
Sector leader: India @ 5,973 metric tons (-29.7%)
Backfill: A brutal month when compared to 2010. Of the top nine countries in the category, only South Africa (at 470 metric tons) shows an increase from a year ago – and that’s because it didn’t ship a single ounce of the stuff in July 2010. Brazil takes a giant step (58.5%) down from last July at 4,983 metric tons. It may be damning with faint praise, but here’s a positive: this July represents the second best month of 2011 for the category.
— Emerson Schwartzkopf
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