Steel Products Prices North America

Flat Roll Imports by District of Entry and Source-February 2018

Written by Peter Wright

This Steel Market Update analysis breaks down the imported tonnage of six flat rolled products into the district of entry and the source country. We believe that misinformation (or lack of) about regional import volumes are often used to influence purchase decisions. Our intent with this analysis is to describe in detail what is going on in a company’s immediate neighborhood and thus provide a negotiating advantage for our premium subscribers.

Premium members will find reports here on our website that break down the import tonnage through February into the port of entry and country of origin in metric tons. Products analyzed in this way are HRC, CRC, HDG sheet, OMC sheet, CTL plate and coiled plate. This data set is large; therefore, we will make no attempt to provide a commentary. Each reader’s interest will be different and he or she simply needs to select one of the six products, then find the nearest port or ports of entry to see how much came into the region each month and from where. Monthly data is provided back to January 2015. It is clear from these detailed reports that the change in tonnage entering a particular district in many cases is completely different to the change in volume at the national level.

Here are some examples to illustrate why this information can be actionable:

• Cut-to-length plate imports in the two months through February were up by 5 percent year over year. In the same time frame, volume through Houston was up by 59 percent and into Detroit was down by 35 percent. In March last year, CTL plate volume into Baltimore collapsed and has not recovered. 

• Total imports of hot rolled were up by 33 percent year to date through February as nine of the top 10 districts experienced an increase. However, Houston was up by 292 percent and Detroit was up by only 15 percent.

The discrepancy between the change in the national total and the individual regions is why we think it’s important for both market understanding and negotiating position to know what’s going on in your own backyard.

The table included here (click to enlarge) is a small part of the detailed analysis of the hot rolled tonnage. The bar graph shows the tonnage of HR that entered the top 10 districts in YTD February for 2017 and 2018 ranked by 2018 tonnage. These 10 districts account for 98.7 percent of the YTD total in 2018. Detroit had the most tonnage through February followed by Columbia Snake, Laredo and Houston.

The data in these detailed reports is compiled from tariff and trade data published by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission. Our other import reports are sourced from U.S. Department of Commerce, Enforcement and Compliance, aka the Steel Import Monitoring System. In the development of these reports by district and source country, we have discovered that the SIMA data for HRC and CRC contains some high-alloy steel such as stainless and tool steel, which has been misclassified at the ports. These alloy steels are not included in our detailed reports, which results in a small discrepancy between the two data sets, for CRC in particular and for HRC to a lesser degree.

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