Steel Products Prices North America

Import Market Share for Sheet, Plate, Longs, Tubulars Through October

Written by David Schollaert

This report examines the import share of sheet, plate, long and tubular products. As of October 2020, imports’ share of total sheet products was 11.8 percent, down from 16.6 percent in May and from a recent high of 22.9 percent in 2015. The import share of HRC has been below 10 percent since January 2019, and was 7.7 percent in October 2020. Other metallic coated sheet has seen the most drastic change over the past five years. Since 2015, when imports’ share of OMC was 51.3 percent, it fell to just 14.8 percent in October 2020. This is not simply as a result of decreased imports, but also due to increased domestic shipments that have seen steady growth since 2014.

Table 1 shows total supply to the market in three months and 12 months through October 2020 for the four product groups and 16 subcategories. Supply to the market is the total of domestic mill shipments to domestic locations plus imports. It shows imports on the same three- and 12-month basis and then calculates import market share for the two time periods for 16 products. Finally, it subtracts the 12-month share from the three-month share and color codes the result green or red according to gains or losses. If the result of the subtraction is positive, it means that import share is increasing, and the code is red. The big picture is that import market share has decreased in three months compared to 12 months for total sheet and plate products. Outside of standard pipe, structural tubing, light shapes and cold finished bars, total tubular and long products saw declining import market share in three months compared to 12 months through October 2020.

Imp.Market.Share Tabel1

Figure 1 shows the historical import market share of plate and total sheet products. The import share of plate has been decreasing erratically since February 2015. There has been a downward drift of sheet product import share in the same timeframe. The market share of plate imports as of October 2020 was 10.9 percent, which represents a decrease of 50.0 percent in just 24 months. Sheet imports were at 11.8 percent, a decrease 28.5 percent over the same period.

Imp.Market.Share Figure1

Figure 2 shows the import market share of the four major sheet products. Other metallic coated (mainly Galvalume) has traditionally had by far the highest import market share, but the gap has closed since late 2017. For the last four years, hot rolled coil has had the lowest import market share of the major sheet products at just 7.7 percent through October 2020.

Imp.Market.Share Figure2

Figures 3 through 6 show the domestic shipments, imports and import market share of the four major sheet sectors. The biggest change has been that domestic shipments of OMC have more than doubled since 2014 with a corresponding decrease in import market share. The import market share of cold rolled has declined by half since 2017. The import market shares of hot rolled and HDG have drifted down since 2015, but less dramatically.

Imp.Market.Share Figure3

Imp.Market.Share Figure4

Imp.Market.Share Figure5

Imp.Market.Share Figure6

Figure 7 breaks out coiled and discrete plate from the flat rolled total and shows that in 2020 through October coiled plate imports had more than five times the market share of CTL imports, while CTL imports fell from 20.0 percent in July 2016 to 4.6 percent in October.

Imp.Market.Share Figure7

Figure 8 describes the total import share of tubular goods and long products. It is evident as we work the numbers that data for the domestic production of tubulars is greatly understated. This is probably because of a more fragmented supply chain and the independent tubers not reporting to the extent that the steel mills do for other products. This has the result of increasing the apparent import market share. Even though we don’t believe these numbers for tubulars, we are including them here in the belief that the trends should still have some validity. Since 2016, the import market share of long products has declined by about 50 percent. 

Imp.Market.Share Figure8

Figure 9 shows the import market share of the individual tubular products. Based on the available information, all are very high compared to other steel product groups. Line pipe is the highest, but declined dramatically in 2019. Standard pipe has seen some momentum since August of 2019, while domestic production of OCTG dropped dramatically in May and June with the result that import market share skyrocketed, but has since seen some correction. We hope that the errors in the tubular data are consistent and the shape of the curves in Figure 9 are useful to industry professionals.

Imp.Market.Share Figure9

Figure 10 shows the detail for the four major sectors of the long products group since January 2011. The most significant change in this sector was for wire rod, which in the years 2014 through most of 2017 had double the import market share of the other long products. In the second half of 2017, the gap began to narrow to the point that in November 2019 the import share of wire rod fell below that of hot rolled bars. Rebar has been very erratic, but the import share fell to a historically low level in December 2019 before returning to a more normal level in 2020. 

Imp.Market.Share Figure10

By David Schollaert,

David Schollaert

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