Steel Products Prices North America

AIIS View of March Steel Imports

Written by Sandy Williams

The American Institute for International Steel reports monthly on steel import levels. We thought our readers might enjoy looking at the data from the AIIS point of view. Here is the press release for imports in March:

Falls Church, VA. April 28, 2016. Steel imports increased 12.8 percent in March and have now expanded by double-digit percentages in two of the first three months of the year. Despite the increase from February, though, the 2.57 million net tons of imports were 28.4 percent less than the total in March 2015.

Imports from Brazil more than doubled from February to 342,000 net tons, a 7.6 percent increase from a year earlier. Canada sent 456,000 net tons of steel to the United States in March, the same as in February but 13.9 percent less than in March of last year, while imports from the European Union were up 12 percent from February – but down 30.6 percent from a year earlier – at 347,000 net tons. Imports from South Korea fell 25.8 percent from February and 50.3 percent from March 2015 to 279,000 net tons.

Through the first quarter of 2016, imports were down 36.1 percent at 7.49 million net tons. Year-to-date imports from Canada decreased 4.5 percent to 1.4 million net tons, while imports from the European Union plummeted 43.2 percent to 997,000 net tons. Both South Korea and Brazil shipped just under 900,000 net tons of steel to the United States through the first three months of the year, decreases of 52.3 percent and 40.5 percent, respectively.

Semifinished imports totaled 472,000 net tons in March, 37.1 percent lower than a year earlier. They were down 32 percent through the first quarter at 1.07 million net tons.

The year began with a 10 percent increase in imports, then, after a dip in February, came March’s 12.8 percent expansion. This is a good sign for the economy, inasmuch as it indicates increasing investment and expansion. It is particularly notable given that economic activity in the first quarter has tended to lag other parts of the year because of weather issues. Still, it’s not yet time to break out the noisemakers and party hats. Steel imports are way down compared to early 2015, and it will take several more months of March-like growth to catch up. If and when that happens, though, we can be confident that the economy will be enjoying healthy growth as well.

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