Steel Products Prices North America

Imports Climb to Two-Year High in January, February Licenses Down

Written by Brett Linton

Preliminary Census data shows that steel imports in January rose 7% month-over-month to 3.08 million net tons, the highest monthly level seen in the past two years. February import licenses through March 1 are currently at 2.20 million tons, a 29% decline from January and down 24% compared to December. Note that the latest U.S. Department of Commerce trade data has slightly revised monthly import figures for various products over the last six months.

Total finished steel imports are preliminarily at 2.28 million tons in January, up 1% from the month prior, but down 3% from November’s 3.5-year high. Finished steel import licenses for February are currently at 1.69 million tons, 26% below January and 25% below December.

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 U.S. steel import trends. The 3MMA through preliminary January data is 2.95 million tons, now at a 42-month high. The average for 2021 steel imports was 2.51 million tons per month. Recall that the lowest 3MMA level in SMU’s recent history was October 2020 at 1.36 million tons. Looking through the latest February license data, that 3MMA is currently at 2.72 million tons.

The table below displays flat rolled product imports as well as other high-volume products, including rebar, tin plate, wire rod, structural pipe and tube, and other long products. We also provide data on 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. January flat rolled imports rose to 1.30 million tons, up 1% from December and now at a multi-year high. February license data currently shows 814,000 tons of flat rolled imports coming into the country. Pipe and tube imports fell 18% to 385,000 tons in January, now at a five-month low. February pipe and tube import licenses are currently down another 10% to 346,000 tons.

We have an interactive graphing tool available on our website here where readers can further investigate historical import data, in total and by product. If you need assistance logging into or navigating the website, contact us at

By Brett Linton,

Brett Linton

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