A surge in China’s shipment of granite slabs and tiles boosted the stone’s U.S. import total by more than 20% early this year.

Data from the U.S. International Trade Commission shows that the 72,344 metric tons (MTs) of worked granite from China in February provided the biggest push in elevating overall imports of the stone during 2014’s first two months to 267,663 MTs. That’s a 23.4% jump from January-February 2013.

250 stoneChina also became the largest granite exporter to the United States in February, besting longtime leader Brazil’s 49,216 MTs. In January, Brazil’s 61,117 MTs easily led China’s 35,336 MTs.

The other members of the Big Four granite exporters found more of a challenge in this year’s first two months. India, at 28,220 MTs in January-February, dropped 11.7% from the same time in 2013; Italy’s 10,376 MTs offered only a 3.2% increase.

China also led in shipments of marble slab and tile to U.S. ports-of-entry this January-February, with its 12,184 MTs snagging the top spot from Italy (which posted a very respectable 11,849 MTs). Again, the big push for China came in February.

The increased marble shipping by China, Italy, Turkey, Spain and other countries led to a total of 41,764 MTs unloaded at U.S. docks this January-February, a 22.8% increase from the same time last year.

The other-calcareous-stone sector showed a massive 80.3% year-to-year increase in U.S. imports during the January-February period, although a large part of the 33,752 MTs total came from Spain’s shipment of 12,581 MTs in January – a total that’s 1,000% higher than the country’s usual monthly total.

Factoring out the massive Spanish shipments still offers good news in other calcareous stone, however. A revised “reality” estimate of 22,250 MTs during January-February this year still yields a 22% increase from last year’s beginning months.

The omnibus category of other stone also fared well, with the 43,382 MTs received by U.S. importers in January-February marking a 7.4% increase from 2013. Brazil led the category for the first two months at 16,713 MTs, up 36.7% from the previous year.

Travertine remained static during January-February, with the 83,735 MTs in imports showing the smallest of declines from 2013: -0.1%. Turkey, as usual, held the mammoth market share with 70,535 MTs in the first two months, up 11.1% from last year.

Slate isn’t reported in import volume; the $8.9 million import value of shipments in January-February offered a 12.4% gain from the same time last year. China’s leading import value of $4.8 million is a 16% increase from 2013.

All figures are metric tons, unless specified. Increases from the same period in 2013 are noted in parentheses. All data is from the U.S. International Trade Commission with Stone Update analysis.

January-February 2014

Worked Granite

All Countries – 267,663 (+23.4)
1. Brazil – 110,333 (+32.6)
2. China – 107,680 (34.9%)
3. India – 28.220 (-11.7%)
4. Italy – 10,376 (+3.2%)
5. Spain – 4,689 (+49.4%)


Worked Marble

All Countries – 41,764 (+22.8%)
1. China – 12,184 (+14.1%)
2. Italy – 11,849 (+25.9%)
3. Turkey – 7,087 (+24.9%)
4. Spain – 3,606 (+18.0%)
5. India – 1,682 (213.2%)


Travertine

All Countries – 83,735 (-0.1%)
1. Turkey – 70,535 (+11.1%)
2. Mexico – 8,417 (+12.9%)
3. Italy – 1,870 (-22.5%)
4. Peru – 1,564 (+4.2%)
5. China – 901 (-85%)


Other Calcareous

All Countries – 33,752 (80.3%)
1. Spain – 13,416 (+878.6%)
2. Italy – 5,570 (+251.2%)
3. China – 4,049 (-16.7%)
4. Turkey – 2,420 (+113.6%)
5. Portugal – 1,773 (-9.8%)


Other Stone

All Countries – 43,382 (+7.4%)
1. Brazil – 16,713 (+36.7%)
2. India – 12,609 (-8.0%)
3. China – 6,640 (+14.7%)
4. Turkey – 2,000 (-34.1%)
5. Italy – 1,620 (+63.6%)


Slate

All Countries – $8,976,698 (+12.4%)
1. China - $4,867,426 (+16.0)
2. India - $2,429,745 (+4.2%)
3. Brazil - $1,016,880 (38.4%
4. United Kingdom - $188,786 (368.1%)
5. Canada - $132,576 (+66.9%)


Get the news of the industry with The EDGE, the monthly e-newsletter from Stone Update. Sign up for your free copy here.

For the latest industry info, check Slab & Sheet every Thursday, plus our Facebook page.