“All” granite includes blocks, boulders and other rough forms of the stone; however, the importing of unworked forms of granite is declining. This will continue in the future, as countries such as Brazil work to curb exports of raw stone and capture the value of slabbed and tiled work for themselves.

The order of granite importers remain the same with worked (slab and tile) stone. Brazil leads all countries with $241.3 million for 1H 2006, followed by Italy at $160 million, China at $141 million, and India at $110.5 million. The growth rate in imports for all four countries in worked granite is roughly the same as with all forms of the stone.

Brazil also strengthened its lead in the amount of worked granite sent to the United States in the first half of the year with 447,890 metric tons. That’s an increase of 46.4 percent from the first half of 2005; Brazil’s current shipments give it 37.1 percent of the U.S. imported granite market.

China’s large increase in 1H 2006 worked-granite imports – 51.8 percent – came to 232,452 metric tons, or a 19.3-percent share of U.S. imported granite. China still placed third behind India’s 263,600 metric tons; India, however, experienced a small 6.5-percent growth in granite-import tonnage from the first half of 2005. Italy’s 185,640 metric tons of worked-granite imports also showed a relatively slow growth in 1H 2006 of 7.8 percent.

Italy remained the leader in value per imported metric ton of worked granite for the first half of this year at an average of $861.96; that’s 2.6-percent better than the $839.92 average for the first six months of 2005, but still lower than the $884.20 average of 1H 2004.

China’s $606.60 average value per metric ton for the first six months of this year is up slightly from the $599.26 average for the same period last year. That still placed China second among the Big Four in on-the-docks value; that figure may go even higher as China adjusts the value of the yuan.

The other members of granite importing’s Big Four, meanwhile, showed decreases in tonnage values for the first half of 2006. Brazil’s average of $538.79 is 7.2-percent lower than the value per metric ton in the first half of 2005. And, the $419.21 average from India for 1H 2006 showed a 3.1-percent drop from the same time last year.

MARBLE

The Chinese currency conundrum may affect U.S. granite imports for the rest of 2006, but there’s an area where the impact may be greater: marble. China made significant advances in the U.S. marble market in the first half of this year in import values and tonnage, and a revaluation of the yuan could slow growth in this sector.

Italy remained the champion of all U.S. marble imports for the first six months of 2006, with its $95.1 million far outpacing Spain’s $41.8 million. Spain, however, hiked its imports by 15.9 percent from the same time last year, while Italy’s shipments grew by only 4.3 percent in value.

China, meanwhile, made serious inroads in all marble imports, with its $36.8 million showing a 50.4-percent increase from the first half of 2005. Turkey’s $27.6 million, meanwhile, amounted to only a 5.7 percent increase. Mexico boosted its marble imports by 28.6 percent to $11.3 million, displacing Greece (at $10.1 million) for fifth place.