Steel Products Prices North America

Finished Steel Imports Jumped 24% in March

Written by Brett Linton

Final Census data shows that finished steel imports rose 24% from February to March, as more U.S. buyers sought relief from climbing domestic prices and limited supplies. March finished imports were just shy of 1.80 million tons, the highest level seen since August 2019. April finished steel import licenses are currently down 6% from March to 1.69 million tons, but up 17% over February figures.

Total March steel imports were 2.31 million tons, up 21% month-over-month. Total April import licenses are currently at 2.45 million tons as of data through May 3, up 6% from March and up 29% from February. Recall that the average monthly import level for 2020 was 1.84 million tons, down from 2.32 million tons in 2019 and 2.81 million tons in 2018.

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 final March data is 2.21 million tons, up from 1.94 million tons in February and up from 1.76 million tons in January. The March 3MMA is now the highest seen since September 2019.

The table below now includes 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.

The two charts below show monthly imports grouped by product category: flat rolled imports and pipe and tube imports. Both product groups showed gains in March, with flat rolled imports ramping up from January’s multi-year low and approaching levels not seen since January 2019. April license data suggests an 11% decline in both flat rolled and pipe and tube imports from March.

By Brett Linton,

Brett Linton

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