The immodest expectation is due to a number of factors. One is low consumer inventories coupled with an increase in US steel demand. Another factor contributing to competitive steel prices was the removal of the Section 201 Tariff in December 2003, which had been imposed to stem the flood of cheap steel onto the American market, and which was subsequently declared illegal by the World Trade Organization. The abolition of the tariff was warmly embraced by New Orleans, which had suffered a 43% drop in imported steel – its main trading commodity. The market recovered quickly, experiencing an 83% increase in steel imports in 2004, largely from Japan and Brazil.
The main driving force however, will be the reconstruction of the Gulf Coast around New Orleans, which is expected to start very soon indeed.