Steel Products Prices North America

Steel Imports Jump by 35% Through September

Written by Tim Triplett

Steel imports into the United States jumped by nearly 35% in the first nine months of this year, versus the same period in 2020, according to Census Bureau data from the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI). Tight supplies and record-high domestic steel prices have attracted a host of imports, which are reportedly some $400-800 per ton cheaper, depending on the product and country of origin.

Steel imports through September totaled 23.8 million net tons, including 16.7 million tons of finished steel, both up 34.9% over a market last year that struggled with disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic. Finished steel imports have captured an estimated 21% share of the U.S. market so far this year. Total imports include slabs and billets purchased by U.S. mills.

Imports of the following finished steel products have seen big increases for the year to date, including hot rolled sheets (up 106%), plates in coils (up 81%), wire rods (up 56%), sheets and strip all other metallic coatings (up 53%), cut lengths plates (up 52%), oil country goods (up 37%), heavy structural shapes (up 29%), cold rolled sheets (up 28%), hot rolled bars (up 26%), wire drawn (up 24%), sheets and strip hot dipped galvanized (up 20%), tin plate (up 17%) and reinforcing bars (up 13%).

Where did most imports come from so far this year? The largest offshore suppliers were South Korea (2,095,000 ton, up 38% vs. the same period in 2020), Japan (749,000 tons, up 28%), Turkey (675,000 tons, up 58%), Germany (648,000 tons, up 24%) and Taiwan (633,000 tons, up 37%), AISI reported.

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