Steel Products Prices North America

September Steel Imports Fall to 18-Month Low in Preliminary Count

Written by Brett Linton

Preliminary US Census Bureau data indicates that steel imports totaled 2.24 million net tons in the month of September. This is down 11% from the prior month, and is potentially the lowest monthly rate seen since February 2021. Recall that monthly import levels also declined 6% from July to August and 6% from June to July. September figures are now down 28% compared to March’s 26-month high of 3.09 million tons.

Broken down by product category, preliminary finished steel imports in September were down 11% compared to August. Semi-finished product imports also declined 11% month-over-month (MoM). Imports of both flat rolled and long products fell 18% and stainless imports declined 15%. The only category to increase was pipe and tube, rising 14% MoM.

Total October import licenses are currently at 1.87 million tons through Oct. 25th data, potentially the lowest level since December 2020 when imports were 1.50 million tons.

US Steel Import Trend

Although imports have declined for multiple months, average levels for this year are still relatively strong compared to recent years. The average monthly import rate for 2022 is now 2.69 million net tons per month through preliminary September data. Compare this to the monthly averages of previous years: 2021 at 2.63 million tons, 2020 at 1.84 million tons, 2019 at 2.32 million tons, 2018 at 2.81 million tons, and 2017 at 3.17 million tons.

Preliminary imports of finished steels fell from 2.10 million tons in August to 1.87 million tons in September, now the lowest monthly level seen since February of this year. The latest data shows finished steel imports down to 1.60 million tons in October’s incomplete license count, the lowest level seen since February 2021.

US Steel Import Trend

Due to large MoM swings in semifinished imports in recent years, the chart below shows total imports on a three-month moving average (3MMA) basis in an attempt to more accurately display trends. The 3MMA is 2.48 million tons through preliminary September figures. This is down from 2.68 million tons the month prior and is now the lowest level seen since April 2021. October license data suggests that the 3MMA could decline to 2.21 million tons, potentially the lowest level since February 2021. Recall that in January of this year the 3MMA had reached a 42-month high of 2.94 million tons, while the lowest 3MMA level in SMU’s recent history was October 2020 at 1.36 million tons.

US Steel Import Trend

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.

US Steel Import Trend Table

The charts below show monthly imports grouped by product category: flat-rolled imports and pipe and tube imports. Preliminary September flat-rolled imports totaled 882,000 tons, now the lowest monthly figure seen since April 2021. October licenses are currently showing at least 781,000 tons of flat-rolled steel to have entered the country during the month. Pipe and tube imports were 509,000 tons in September, bouncing back from August’s dip to reach the fourth highest monthly level seen in the past three years. October pipe and tube licenses are currently at 368,000 tons.

US Steel Import Trend

US Steel Import Trend

We have an interactive graphing tool available on our website here. Readers can explore 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

Read more from Brett Linton

Latest in Steel Products Prices North America