Steel Products Prices North America

Update on U.S. Steel Imports through January

Written by Brett Linton

U.S. steel imports show mixed signs, according to January preliminary Census data. January steel imports are currently reported at 2.42 million net tons, up 62% from one month prior due to the quarterly surge in semi-finished product imports. Focusing on finished steel imports only, January figures are down from December by nearly 90,000 tons or 7%.

Recall that the average monthly import level for 2020 was 1.84 million tons, down 21% from the 2019 monthly average of 2.32 million tons, and down 35% from the 2018 monthly average of 2.81 million tons.

Due to SMU member comments, we have expanded the import table below to include other high-volume products in addition to our normal focus on flat rolled products. We now show a brief history on products such as rebar, tin plate, wire rod, structural pipe and tube, and other long products. We also provide data on categorized imports, divided into semifinished, finished, flat rolled, longs, pipe and tube, and stainless products. We welcome your comments.

Due to large month-to-month swings in semifinished imports, the chart below shows total monthly imports on a three-month moving average (3MMA) basis in an attempt to more accurately display the U.S. steel import trend. The 3MMA through preliminary January data is now 1.76 million tons, up from 1.46 million tons in December.

Total finished imports in January are down 7% from the prior month at 1.26 million tons. Imports of semifinished products (mostly slabs) are at 1.16 million tons, up from 142,000 tons in December, due to January’s quarterly reset in import quotas on semi-finished goods.

The two charts below show monthly imports grouped by product category: flat rolled imports and pipe and tube imports. Both categories are down in January over December, with flat rolled imports at a multi-year low.

In early March, we will report on final January import figures as well as license data through the entire month of February.

By Brett Linton,

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