Tag Archives: Lebanon

StatWatch: U.S. Stone Imports, June 2011

By Emerson Schwartzkopf

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.

120_em_hedAll figures give are for June 2011 (change from June 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: $102.1 million (10.5%)
Sector leader: Brazil @ $47.4 million (15.6%)

Backfill: As far as values declared at customs, granite surges ahead of last year, with India making the biggest advance from June ’10 with $13.8 million (up 16.5%). That barely holds off Italy at $13 million even (up 7.4%). China gets the second spot at $21.4 million, but barely 0.4% ahead of the same time last year.

WORKED GRANITE VOLUME
Total:
116,578 metric tons (-32.3%)
Sector leader: Brazil @ 55,922 metric tons (-41.7%)

Backfill: May 2011’s boom turns into June’s bust, as shipments drop sharply from Brazil and China (26,260 metric tons, -40.9% from last June). India manages to improve from last year with 17,416 metric tons (up 11.9%).

WORKED MARBLE VALUE
Total: $19.1 million (2.9%)
Sector leader: Italy @ $8.2 million (17.1%)

Backfill: Values also remain strong with marble; China boosts its share to $4.2 million, up 12.6% from June 2010. Turkey and Spain round out the million-dollar club ($2.2 million and $2.0 million, respectively); it’s a 7.8% solution, as Turkey drops and Spain rises by the same measure from last year’s levels.

WORKED MARBLE VOLUME
Total:
17,120 metric tons (3.0%)
Sector leader: China @ 5,059 metric tons (-5.9%)

Backfill: The category makes a small gain, and China keeps its top tonnage mark for the third straight month – even as it sends less marble to U.S. docks than last June. Italy follows closely in second at 4,888 metric tons (up 22.5% from June 2010), and Spain gets stronger at 2,589 metric tons (up 12.8%).

TRAVERTINE VALUE
Total: $24.6 million (2.5%)
Sector leader: Turkey @ $16.5 million (5.8%)

Backfill: Travertine continues its slow-and-sure climb, fueled by Turkey’s steady push in the market. Mexico’s $4.6 million (up 6.6% from June 2010) also offers a helping hand. It’s a different story with Italy; the $1.1 million from this June is a 26.3% drop from the year before.

TRAVERTINE VOLUME
Total: 41,109 metric tons (-31.4%)
Sector leader: Turkey @ 32,539 metric tons (-28.8%)

Backfill: June is a month where the numbers offer a biased picture; nearly all major travertine-exporting counties had unusually high June 2010 totals that make this June’s shipments look plain bad. Looking only at 2011 numbers, this June offers the second-best month of the year for most, and the best for Peru at 1,027 metric tons. The only drag this year is China; it showed a high in February at 1,662 metric tons, but dropped all the way to 963 metric tons in June.

OTHER CALCAREOUS VALUE
Total: $7.4 million (-3.5%)
Sector leader: China @ $1.2 million (23.3%)

Backfill: With Lebanon’s wild output finally out of the picture, things return to something close to normal; China’s good gains from June 2010 are offset by Italy ($1 million, down 10.9%) and Portugal ($853,022, down 6.8%). Other major exporters to the United States moved up or down by less than 4%, except for France’s bounceback ($580,513, up 100.1%).

OTHER CALCAREOUS VOLUME
Total: 9,899 metric tons (5.2%)
Sector leader: Mexico @ 2,666 metric tons (542.4%)

Backfill: Removing Lebanon’s sky-high tonnage from the mix – it dropped out of the market in May 2010 – gives this category something it hasn’t seen in a year: a gain. Unfortunately, it’s due to abnormally huge shipments from Mexico; other major countries show a loss from last June, save China (1,456 metric tons, up 44.3%).

SLATE VALUE
Total: $4.8 million (3.2%)
Sector leader: China @ $2.1 million (8.9%)

Backfill: It’s all good news here; second-place India also shows an increase of 3.7% from last year with its $1.9 million. Brazil lags far behind at $397,993 in third, but the total shows a 20.1% gain from June 2010.

OTHER STONE VALUE
Total: $17.3 million (-23.3%)
Sector leader: India @ $5.4 million (-22.8%)

Backfill: The struggle continues for this catchall of stone imports, although June’s totals represent the best performance since last September.  Second place Brazil continues a long, deep slide from last year ($4.2 million, down 39%) and China wobbles ($2 million, down 14.9%). Canada steps up slightly ($2 million, up 3.5%) and Italy gets a small 3.4% gain at $1.5 million.

OTHER STONE VOLUME
Total: 20,151 metric tons (-31.6%)
Sector leader: India @ 6,447 metric tons (-23.5%)

Backfill: As with May 2011, no country shipping more than a thousand metric tons in this category offers any growth from the previous year. China gives the best of the worst at 3,061 metric tons, down 13.5%. Brazil’s 5,237 metric tons is a 43% drop from June 2010; Canada makes a 4.17% slip with 2,041 metric tons.


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StatWatch: U.S. Stone Imports, December 2010

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.

All figures give are for December 2010 (change from December 2009 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).
 
WORKED GRANITE VALUE
Total: $79.7 million (8.53%)
Sector leader: Brazil @ $33.0 million (9.0%)

Backfill: December becomes the middling month in granite value for the recovery year of 2010; while Brazil advances from the end of 2009, the increase fails to reach the 33-percent climb seen in November 2010. India makes a strong showing at $12.4 million in customs value to show a 51-percent hike from December 2009 – but it only moves the country into third place.

China again shows a small decline – two percent – with its $18.5 million in value. And, Italy, at $10.1 million, doesn’t move much at all (-0.4 percent). The surprise of last year remains Saudi Arabia, going from sub-$100,000 months in 2009 to a strong finish of $811,052 in December 2010.

WORKED GRANITE VOLUME
Total:
156,213 metric tons (84.1%)
Sector leader: India @ 62,225 metric tons (499.8%)

Click to enlargeBackfill: Granite import values may be wishy-washy, but last December’s tonnage likely put a dent in U.S. docks. India dramatically reverses a second-half 2010 downward slide, sending more granite to the United States in December than in the previous four months combined. Brazil moves to #2 for the month, but its 42,123 metric tons are a 14.4-percent increase from December 2009.

China finishes a comparably weak second-half 2010 with 25,518 metric tons, down 2.9 percent from December 2009. Italy, meanwhile, posts its third-best month of 2010 with 20,174 metric tons, up 210.7 percent from the previous December.

WORKED MARBLE VALUE
Total: $15.2 million (-7.1%)
Sector leader: Italy @ $6.5 million (-17.4%)

Backfill: Last December proves to be a lumpy flight for marble’s import values, as Italy’s decline accounts for falling farther behind 2009’s tepid pace. Spain also records a significant drop – $1.4 million, down 32.4 percent – from December 2009, while Israel freefalls to $89,278, a 73.3-percent decline.

December 2010 also shows some high points, though, as China sends $3.9 million in worked-marble value, up 23.8 percent from the previous December. Turkey bumps up its marble imports by 23.9 percent to $1.2 million, and Greece finishes 2010 in decent fashion with $439,149, up 37.1 percent from December 2009.

WORKED MARBLE VOLUME
Total: 14,125 metric tons (-0.8%)
Sector leader: China @ 5,309 metric tons (-1.5%)

Backfill: The lead for top worked-marble exporter to the United States changes hands again, as China ships 5,309 metric tons in December 2010. Sharp-eyed observers will also note that China increased worked-marble customs value while decreasing import volume, which means the country’s getting more for its stone at the end of last year.

Last December also finds few slouches as far as tonnage totals; Italy’s 3,652 metric tons offers a 1.6-percent increase while Turkey pumps up its shipments by 82.9 percent to 1,983 metric tons. Only Spain shows any major loss among the top exporters, with its 1,444 metric tons representing a 33.7-percent decline from December 2009.

TRAVERTINE VALUE
Total:
$17.8 million (2.5%)
Sector leader: Turkey @ $11.5 million (8.2%)

Backfill: December 2010 shows the shipment values declining from major exporters, save the one that matters – Turkey, since it controls more than two-thirds (by value) of the U.S. travertine-import market. China makes some positive noise, moving up 29 percent from December 2009 to 914,412 metric tons.

Mexico still lags behind 2009, with last December’s nearly $3.2 million representing a 9.3-percent drop. Peru also fails to exceed December 2009, with $954,870 showing a 6.9-percent decrease. Italy finishes an up-and-down year on the down side, with its $714,213 behind December 2009 by 36.7  percent.

TRAVERTINE VOLUME
Total: 28.281 metric tons (1.8%)
Sector leader: Turkey @ 21,236 metric tons (1.9%)

Backfill: It’s not hard to see Turkey’s shipments to the United States keep near-exact pace with the total tonnage of travertine entering the country. For every four tons of travertine accepted at ports-of-entry, Turkey accounted for three of them in December 2010.

At 3,947 metric tons, the imports from Mexico in December 2010 mark the second-worst month of the year, but it still beats the end of 2009 by 1.7 percent. China manages a 59.5-percent boost to 976 metric tons; Peru’s 939 metric tons shows a 12.3-percent decline from December 2009. 

OTHER CALCAREOUS VALUE
Total:
$6.3 million (-29.5%)
Sector leader: Italy @ $1.0 million (-33.7%)

Backfill: Even without the Lebanon Effect (and we’ll get to that soon enough), this category of limestone and other like stones remains a laggard for 2010. Long the leader, Italy may be surpassed soon by one of three other candidates with decent December 2010 showings: France ($835,645), China ($814,898) or Portugal ($779,273). China became the only one of the lot to post a gain from December 2009 at 36.1 percent.

Only two other countries with more than $200,000 of import values managed an annual gain in December 2010 – Mexico ($574,593; 22.7 percent) and Egypt ($342,491; 233.0 percent).

OTHER CALCAREOUS VOLUME
Total: 8,404 metric tons (-89.9%)
Sector leader: Portugal @ 1,549 metric tons (44.9%)

Backfill: The drastic drop-off is the result of the Lebanon effect; that Mideast country dominated the U.S. import market for other calcareous until last June, when it stopped shipping any of the stone here. However, even if Lebanon’s 71,483 metric tons in December 2009 is discounted, the imports in December 2010 still show a decline of 28.9 percent from the previous year.

The market’s not a total disaster in December 2010; besides Portugal’s upswing, the 1,298 metric tons from Italy offer a 77.6-percent gain from  the previous year, and Israel finds a place to pep up with 789 metric tons, a 163-percent improvement.

SLATE VALUE
Total:
$4.6 million (11.9%)
Sector leader: China @ $1.9 million (13.3%)

Backfill: China widens its lead over India in dimensional, non-roofing slate during December 2010, although both fall short of the $2-million values each racked up in November 2010.

Behind slate’s Big Two, December 2010 data show that Brazil ($433,442, up 52.2 percent from December 2009) and the United Kingdom ($292,128, up 107.1 percent) continue to gain interest.

Emerson Schwartzkopf

You can read up-to-the-minute news on the dimensional-stone trade and search the archives at Stone Business Online.

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Granite makes big gains in 2010 U.S. imports

With initial reports in from the U.S. International Trade Commission on December 2010 imports, it’s possible to take a preliminary look at last year’s traffic in dimensional stone.

The following is an exclusive Stone Business analysis of data released Feb. 10, 2011, by  the U.S. International Trade Commission. “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 (at least once).

With worked granite, the $956.8 million in 2010 customs values shows a 24.1-percent increase from 2009’s $770.1 million. It’s still far away, however, from the peak year of 2006 and its $1.53 billion.

Brazil topped the charts in 2010 worked granite value at $413.9 million, making a  45.3-percent recovery from the previous year. China placed second at $215.7 million with an ever-so-slight decline from 2009 of 0.3 percent; India moved ahead of Italy into third, as the countries posted $134.8 million  (+35 percent) and $121.2 million (+15.3 percent), last year, respectively.

In volume, the 1.61-million metric tons of worked granite brought to the United States last year marked a 43.4-percent increase from 2009. While that came close to 2008’s 1.71 million metric tons, it’s still far from the record mark of 2.63-million metric tons in 2006.

Brazil also held a commanding top position in 2010 U.S. granite imports by volume, with its 677,857 metric tons representing a 52.8-percent rise from 2009. China remained in second place with 367,600 metric tons – a 22-percent increase from 2009 – while India raised its U.S. presence by 62 percent to 316,957 metric tons last year.

Worked marble didn’t fare as well in 2010; the $189.3 million in customs value represented a slight 2.6-percent decline from 2009, caused mainly by lower totals from Italy and Greece. And it’s a long ways from the top of the market in 2007, with total U.S. import values of $318.6 million.

In volume, however, worked marble turned around, with the 169,831 metric tons for 2010 showing a 1.6-percent increase from the previous year. China kept the #1 position it gained in 2009 in marble tonnage, with its 55,341 metric tons outweighing Italy’s 45,291 metric tons. Of the four U.S. trade partners – China, Italy, Turkey and Spain – shipping more than 10,000 metric tons of worked marble, all showed increases from 2009.

U.S. imports in travertine also experienced small gains for 2010; the $247.3 million in value made for a 1.1-percent increase from 2009, while the 457,610 metric tons shipped marked a 7.4-percent improvement. Much of this came as Turkey ramped up production; its 347,150 metric tons last year yielded a 12.1-percent growth from 2009.

For other calcareous stone, 2010 will be the year of Lebanon’s vanishing act. Import values fell by 21.8 percent from 2009 totals to settle at $90.8 million, while volume plummeted by a staggering 47.7 percent to 348,284 metric tons, as the Mideast country disappeared from the import market after last May.

The catch-all category of other stone managed some good news with its mixed haul; the 2010 U.S. import values of $223 million marked a 9.3 percent gain, with Brazil repeating its #1 performance with $72.9 million (up 22.5 percent from 2009). Other stone volume through U.S. ports-of-entry increased by 14.4 percent in 2010 to 281,851 metric tons, with Brazil taking the top spot with 100,173 metric tons.

Slate, meanwhile, puttered along in 2010 to post U.S. import values of $56.7 million – down a mere 0.8 percent from the previous year. Import leaders China ($23.8 million) and India ($22.4 million) suffered declines in 2010; Brazil, farther back at $4.6 million, nevertheless recovered by 15.9 percent from a disastrous 2009.

Emerson Schwartzkopf

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StatWatch: Stone Imports, November 2010

The following is an exclusive Stone Business analysis of data released Jan. 10, 2011, by  the U.S. International Trade Commission. All figures give are for November 2010 (change from November 2009 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).

WORKED GRANITE VALUE
Total:
$81.4 million (27.3%)
Sector leader: Brazil @ $37.5 million (51.3%)

Backfill: Granite import values in November remain well below the highs of July and August, where totals tickled the $100 million mark. Brazil remains the driver of worked granite’s recovery; China, in second at $16 million for November 2010, improved from the same time in 2009 by a paltry 1.5 percent.

Saudi Arabia’s import values remains well below the Big Four (Brazil, China, India, Italy) but continues to be the surprise of 2010, going from $25, 466 in January to $995,098 in November – its second-best month of the year.

WORKED GRANITE VOLUME
Total:
109,706  metric tons (47.8%)
Sector leader: Brazil @ 58,162 metric tons (87.2%)

Backfill: Before breaking out the hats and horns for a great November, it’s fair to note that the comparison – November 2009 – was one of the five lowest months for granite tonnage in the past five years. And, this November’s totals broke a seven-month string of 125,000+ metric tons received.

November, despite its lowered totals, still remains respectable. Of the Big Four, China shows some consistency at 22,238 metric tons, a 9.8-percent increase from November 2009. Saudi Arabia also remains impressive with its 2010 granite volume, going from 20 metric tons in January to 1,263 metric tons in November – again, its second best month of the year.

WORKED MARBLE VALUE
Total:
$15.8 million (-1.3%)
Sector leader: Italy @ $8.4 million (9.3%)

Backfill: November would look a lot lousier if Italy hadn’t picked up from a bad October, when it dipped to $4.8 million. Of the three other countries that posted import values of more than $1 million, only one shows a gain from November 2009: Spain, up 13.9 percent at $1.4 million.

China, meanwhile, shuffles down 10.6 percent to $2.8 million, and Turkey slips 8.8 percent to $1.3 million. Farther down the import chain, Greece’s $398,171 makes a bang-up gain of 109.9 percent from November 2009, while Brazil jumps 131.3% with its $146,265. Israel takes the largest hit, with its $133,663 cutting a 44.4-percent decline.

WORKED MARBLE VOLUME
Total:
12,957 metric tons (-0.3%)
Sector leader: Italy @ 4,420 metric tons (18.1%)

Backfill: Italy stretches out its lead on China for number-one in U.S. worked-marble import tonnage; it’s the first time since April 2009 that Italy’s held the top spot for two months in a row. China, meanwhile, drops 17.6 percent from November 2009 totals with its 3,404 metric tons.

Admittedly, 0.3 percent isn’t much of an overall monthly gain from the same time in 2009, but any good news is welcome news. The other two major exporters to the United States help to keep the positive trend afloat: Turkey with 1,858 metric tons (+6.1 percent) and Spain’s 1,631 metric tons (+23.5 percent).

TRAVERTINE VALUE
Total: $19.0 million (5.2%)
Sector leader: Turkey @ $12.0 million (3.0%)

Backfill: With one exception, the major exporters to the United States made some peppy gains from November 2009, as Italy’s $1.2 million shows a 13.9-percent gain, and Peru makes a 30.1-percent jump with $890,450. China does even better, climbing 54.2-percent from November 2009 with $739,932.

The downer is with Mexico, although its $3.6 million only trails November 2009 totals by 1.4 percent. And while China’s November figures easily outpace the same time in 2009, the numbers also represent a major drop from October 2010’s $1.5 million.

TRAVERTINE VOLUME
Total:
32,291 metric tons (-3.0%)
Sector leader: Turkey @ 22,520 metric tons (-14.1%)

Backfill: Turkey maintains its two-thirds share of travertine tonnage into the United States in November 2010, but increased shipments from other countries offset the Turkish decline from 2009. China takes an immense step up – as in 611.5 percent – with its 2,967 metric tons in November 2010; Peru, operating farther down the scale, still boosts its U.S. shipments by 17.3 percent to 836 metric tons.

Mexico, meanwhile, posted its worst month since February, but November 2010’s total of 4,608 metric tons still edged November 2009 by 1.9 percent.

OTHER CALCAREOUS VALUE
Total:
$7.3 million (-25.3%)
Sector leader: Italy @ $1.6 million (-15.4%)

Backfill: Francophiles can gloat in November 2010; of all the countries shipping more than $300,000 of other calcareous to the United States, only France ($659,285) beat its numbers (by 11.4 percent) from the previous November. Italy sways back from its serious swoon in October 2010 by adding almost $1 million in value during November, but that fell behind 2009 by 15.4 percent.

Portugal takes the biggest beating in November 2010; its $716,176 in value is a 51.8 percent decline. China doesn’t fare much better, dropping 32.4 percent with its $808,828. Spain slows the slide somewhat at 7.9 percent with $753,177 in value.

OTHER CALCAREOUS VOLUME
Total:
10,661 metric tons (-74.2%)
Sector leader: France @ 2,093 metric tons (513.8%)

Backfill: Let’s face it – this category will be the Black Hole of Stone Statistics with the absence of Lebanon, which controlled more than two-thirds of other calcareous arriving on U.S. docks until June 2010, when it abruptly stopped shipping the stone. Period.

As it is, the market isn’t all that great; saw out Lebanon’s shipments, and November 2010 tonnage would still be 41.5-percent behind the previous year. Egypt goes better than France with its improvement from November 2009 – 862.4 percent with 1,742 metric tons – but other stalwarts such as Portugal and China decline by 60.6 percent and 16.4 percent, respectively.

SLATE VALUE
Total:
$4.9 million (28.9%)
Sector leader: China @ $2.0 million (21.3%)

Backfill: The market for dimensional, non-roofing slate seems to be picking up; India’s import value for U.S. shipments in November 2010 increases by 34 percent from the previous year, and comes in only $19,000 under China’s total.

The United Kingdom (up 225.2 percent from November 2009) and Brazil (up 142.3 percent) stage a closer race for third place, with the former’s $277,100 barely edging the latter’s $277,049.

Emerson Schwartzkopf

You can read up-to-the-minute news on the dimensional-stone trade and search the archives at Stone Business Online.

Get the best in insightful and informed coverage of the stone industry every month with Stone Business magazine. Sign up for a free subscription (or renew your current account) and don’t miss a single issue – just click here.

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U.S. Stone Import StatWatch, October 2009

Dimensional-stone imports show a few bright spots, and the worst seems to be over. However, don’t expect major improvement anytime soon.

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 October 2009 (change from October 2008 amounts 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: $66.5 million (-36.4%)
Sector leader: Brazil @ $25.1 million (-14.45%)
Backfill: The value attributed to granite coming into the country continues its lackluster pace, although it’s not plumbing dramatic new depths. Brazil seems to be suffering less than other countries, mainly due to value declines in late 2008.

Worked Granite Volume
Total: 142,568 metric tons (-17.95%)
Sector leader: Brazil @ 53,554 metric tons (-5.42%)
Backfill: Brazil’s getting back to business with import levels getting close to 2008 levels, but other major exporters are still lagging – India and China are 12.2% and 26.6%, respectively, behind October 2008. Italy’s 4,441 metric tons in October 2009 is one of its worst showings of the decade.

Worked Marble Value
Total: $13.9 million (-39.68%)
Sector leader: Italy @ $5.8 million (-37.81%)
Backfill: Italy maintains its lead over China (which recorded $3.4 million in October 2009) but things aren’t entirely rosy. That $5.8 million is the second-worst monthly tally in 2009 for Italy, and way below the $10.1 million mark it reached in August.

Worked Marble Volume
Total: 12,627 metric tons (-34.18%)
Sector leader: China @ 5,433 metric tons (+15.89%)
Backfill: China provides one of the few positives in U.S. stone imports, recording seven straight months of tonnage growth. Italy posts 2,663 metric tons for the month, down 47.72 percent from October 2008. Former powerhouse Spain drops to fourth in import volume, falling behind Turkey.

Travertine Value
Total: $19.8 million (-38.59%)
Sector leader: Turkey @ $13.2 million (-38.79%)
Backfill: As Turkey goes, the U.S. travertine market follows; even with a hefty decline in value, the country still contributes more than 68 percent of the total. No importing country made any gains; the United Arab Emirates takes a 79.6-percent drop from the previous October.

Travertine Volume
Total: 40.993 metric tons (-35.40%)
Sector leader: Turkey @ 26,712 metric tons (-47.44%)
Backfill: While Turkey still imports more than half of all travertine coming into U.S. ports-of-entry, Mexico shows some market muscle this fall. Its 11,193 metric tons represents a 39.66% gain from the previous October.

Other Calcareous Value
Total: $7.9 million (-50.16%)
Sector leader: Italy @ $1.1 million (-50.18%)
Backfill: Nobody’s a winner in this category; the first positive comes with Canada’s 27.44% increase from October 2008; unfortunately, our northern neighbor only contributed import values of $488,929. Lebanon’s $661,354 offers another loop in the country’s rollercoaster performance – in September 2009, it exported absolutely nothing in other calcareous to the United States.

Slate Value
Total: $4.3 million (-39.96%)
Sector leader: India @ $1.97 million (-37-23%)
Backfill: India and China continue their slate U.S. import duel; India led in August, China tallied more value in September, and India moves back on top in October. Unfortunately, both find values dropping by more than 30 percent from last October. Brazil, meanwhile, sees the value of its U.S. slate shipments drop by 68.52%.

Emerson Schwartzkopf

You can read up-to-the-minute news on the dimensional-stone trade and search the archives at Stone Business Online, where you can also find Blogs at the Main Menu.

The advertisements that appear on this page are placed by wordpress.com, and constitute no endorsement of the products or services. And I don’t get a dime from them, either.

You Got That WHERE?

Consider the origins of stone-care products at your local industry supplier – or the nearest Big Box home-furnishing stone – and you’ll get a quick tour of the worldwide stone industry. Mixed in with U.S. manufacturers are destinations as close as Canada and Mexico to more-exotic locations such as Turkey and China.

And, if there’s an incredibly enterprising importer out there, you can add one more country to the list: the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) … or, as you’re going to likely know it, North Korea.

The country’s official news agency reported in June that scientists developed a stone cleaner/enhancer made from “natural materials;” the solution won’t harm the stone, and residue is non-polluting.) The agency also noted that, for those looking to dress up some concrete, there’s a new paint that provides the look of natural stone in five colors.)

Negotiating a business deal isn’t going to be an easy job, considering that exports from the DPRK come by fits and starts; on occasion, it doesn’t export directly to U.S. customers for a year at a time. (Don’t expect the DPRK’s official Website to offer a lot of help for starting up trade, although there is an official chamber of commerce.

However, as of last October, the country is off the “state supporters of terrorism” list, by order of former President George W. Bush. It’s OK to do business in Pyongyang, although you might be wary if anyone starts talking about payments through Office 39.

It’s unlikely that “Made in the DPRK” would appear on any of this stuff, as it might make a stone rejuvenator a bit of a tough sell at Bed, Bath and Beyond. Finding a different way to market by packaging the stuff somewhere else – Hong Kong, maybe – might do the trick. After all, it’s worked for the literally countless tons of stone with some genuinely strange import tags.

In the first six months of this year, for example, there’s been a regular flow of worked granite from the Dominican Republic. Admittedly, there are granite deposits in the country – the last mention I could find came from 1907 – but it’s a tougher sell to see major granite quarrying in Panama, Singapore or the United Arab Emirates, which all sent granite to U.S. ports-of-entry this year.

This is due to the Harmonized Tariff Schedule that determines the export “origin” by how much a product is worked, and it’s easy to believe that stone factories are running in Singapore or Dubai. (It’s a stretch to see major boulder-to-slab operations in the Cayman Islands, which sends along a few tons of granite every now and then.)

Then there’s the interesting case of Lebanon and the stone export category of other calcareous, which basically includes any calcareous stone that isn’t classified as marble or travertine. For years, the country sent, on average, less than 100 metric tons a month of other calcareous to the United States – until December 2006.

In October of that year, Lebanon exported 21 metric tons of the ol’ o.c. here. Two months later, it exported 28,224 metric tons to the United States. Since then, Lebanon has been the biggest volume exporter of other calcareous to us, often providing more than half the total shipments of the stone (although at a drastically reduced value when compare to other Mediterranean countries). It’s a great story, except that there are no strong clues as how it’s happened.

Most customers don’t particularly care where someone cuts stone from the ground; they want a nice-looking slab or tile. With more interest in the point of origin – on political or health issues – we may be in for some interesting IDs on products in the future, however.

Emerson Schwartzkopf

You can read up-to-the-minute news on the dimensional-stone trade and search the archives at www.stonebusiness.net, where you can also find this blog at the top of the home page under the clever title of “Editor’s Blog.

The advertisements that appear on this page are placed by wordpress.com, and constitute no endorsement of the products or services. And I don’t get a dime from them, either.

StatWatch: Stone Imports, June 2009

Dimensional-stone imports remain in the doldrums, lagging far behind last year’s totals. The road to recovery may still be a few intersections away.

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 June 2009 (change from June 2008 amounts 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 Volume
Total: 114,099 metric tons (-33.42%)
Sector leader: Spain @ 36,074 metric tons (2,210.95%)
Backfill: Wow! Maybe there’s resurgence here, especially with a massive upturn in Spanish shipments to offset some poor summertime number from others, including China’s 62.84% drop from last June. Then again ….

Worked Granite Value
Total: $65.7 million (-37.29%)
Sector leader: Brazil @ $22.8 million (-34.79%)
Backfill: …the numbers don’t add up, as Spain’s supposed bonanza in tonnage is way out of sorts with the $1.1 million in value (25% off last June’s pace, by the way) recorded at U.S. ports-of-entry. Either there are some misreported numbers, or Spanish slab granite is going for a less-than-roadbed-pebbles $31 per metric ton. We’ll bet on the former.

Worked Marble Value
Total: $16.9 million (-35.35%)
Sector leader: Italy @ $7.4 million (-41.19%)
Backfill: Italy continues to improve from its bottom-scraping February total of $4.9 million, but it’s still far behind last year’s figures. China’s $3.5 million in June again showed the smallest decline (14%) from last year.

Worked Marble Volume
Total: 14,619 metric tons (-28.64%)
Sector leader: China @ 4,774 metric tons (-11.18%)
Backfill: Italy easily wins the race in value, but China is slugging it out, ton-by-ton, to be the leader in landing slabs and tiles on U.S. docks. Mid-year metric-ton totals show China (23,615) pulling away from Italia (21,564).

Travertine Value
Total: $21.7 million (-37.25%)
Sector leader: Turkey @ $13.6 million (-36.77%)
Backfill: China offered a bright spot with a small 4.9% gain from last June, but with less than $1 million of actual travertine. The United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) small toehold in the market last year is giving way, with the $90,367 in travertine value showing a 61.64% decline from last year.

Travertine Volume
Total: 35,782 metric tons (-57.11%)
Sector leader: Turkey @ 25,481 metric tons (-62.26%)
Backfill: Turkey’s drastic drop in tonnage from 2008 levels is the main reason for the halving of travertine imports; Peru picked up its business by 17.84% from last June, but shipped only $2,015 tons. The UAE’s 163 metric tons registered a collapse of 94.26% from June 2008.

Other Calcereous Value
Total: $9.6 million (-45.10%)
Sector leader: Italy @ $1.7 million (-41.54%)
Backfill: The wild variances of the past 18 months seem to be flattening out; 2009 month-to-month declines are consistent, and Italy’s back in the top position. Lebanon’s mysterious big boom appears to be over; the $319,396 shipped to the United States this June shows a drop in value of 82.69% from the previous year.

Slate Value
Total: $5.0 million (-38.21%)
Sector leader: India @ $2.27 million (-25.86%)
Backfill: India turned up on top this month, beating China by close to $200,000 in import value. The difference between the two is larger than all of Canada’s $130,122 in slate shipped across the border, but good things come in smaller totals; that’s a 25.88% increase from June 2008 for our Neighbor to the North.

Emerson Schwartzkopf

You can read up-to-the-minute news on the dimensional-stone trade and search the archives at Stone Business Online, where you can also find this blog at the Main Menu under the clever title of “Editor’s Blog.”

The advertisements that appear on this page are placed by wordpress.com, and constitute no endorsement of the products or services. And I don’t get a dime from them, either.