Steel Products

AIIS Comments on January Steel Imports, Section 232

Written by Sandy Williams

Steel imports surged more than 17 percent from December to January, reaching 2.87 million net tons, 2.1 percent higher than at the start of last year, according to data from the American Institute for International Steel.

Imports from Canada increased nearly 13 percent to 558,000 net tons, 5 percent ahead of the January 2017 total, while imports from Brazil recorded a monthly increase of just under 5 percent to 371,000 net tons, one-fourth higher than a year earlier. This was followed by 345,000 net tons of imports from the European Union – about 19 percent higher than both December and the previous January; 338,000 net tons from South Korea – more than three-fourths higher than the preceding month and more than 8 percent higher than a year prior; and 333,000 net tons from Mexico – well over a third above the December total and just under a third above the January 2017 level.

Semifinished imports increased 13 percent from the first month of last year to 548,000 net tons.

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AIIS added in its report commentary on recent trade actions by the Trump administration. The comments precede Thursday’s announcement of Section 232 tariffs by the president.

“After the Trump administration announced in January that it would impose tariffs on imports of solar panels and washing machines, the Chinese government said that it would investigate the $1 billion in annual U.S. exports of sorghum to that country. This is just a sample of what will happen if the White House restricts steel imports based on the Commerce Department’s Section 232 report. With the global steel market approaching $1 trillion a year – more than 10 times larger than the solar panel and washing machine markets combined – many countries are sure to respond with retaliatory measures. In fact, an official in China’s Commerce Ministry has already indicated that the nation’s vast market could become less open to American businesses, warning, ‘If the United States’ final decision affects China’s interests, we will take necessary measures to defend our rights.’

“The choice for the president, then, is not really steel tariffs or no steel tariffs, it is trade war or no trade war.”

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