The U.S. imported a total of 3.48 million tons of finished steel in January, the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) reported this week (based on U.S. Census Bureau data).
The January import total marked a 20.7% increase from the January 2018 total. Imports were also up 83.3% compared with December 2018.
Finished steel import market share was an estimated 25% in January, according to the report. The 25% steel import market share for January marked a steep increase from December, when it stood at 19% (after four consecutive months at 21%). In 2018, import market share peaked at 29% in April.
By steel product, several posted significant import increases during the first month of 2019 (compared with December 2018):
- reinforcing bars (up 241%)
- oil country goods (up 148%)
- cut lengths plates (up 127%)
- structural shapes heavy (up 70%)
- line pipe (up 61%)
- standard pipe (up 58%)
- sheets and strip all other metallic coatings (up 52%)
- mechanical tubing (up 45%)
- sheets and strip galvanized hot dipped (up 39%)
- wire drawn (up 27%)
- wire rods (up 27%)
- plates in coils (up 23%)
- tin plate (up 23%)
- hot rolled bars (up 21%)
- cold rolled sheets (up 13%)
- hot rolled sheets (up 12%)
By country, South Korea was the biggest offshore exporter of steel to the U.S. in January, sending 361,000 net tons (up 298% from the December total).
Trailing South Korea were:
- Germany (134,000 NT, up 17%)
- Brazil (129,000 NT, up 737%)
- Japan (106,000 NT, up 10%)
- Vietnam (104,000 NT, up 3%).
In other steel news, the U.S.’s Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum remain in place vis-a-vis NAFTA partners Canada and Mexico. The tariffs are a sticking point for the Canadian and Mexican governments as the three countries work to push the new iteration of NAFTA, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), across the finish line. Some U.S. lawmakers have also called for removal of the tariffs before final approval of the deal.
The executives of the three countries signed the deal late last year during the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires. However, each country’s legislature must ratify the USMCA before it can go into effect.