Steel Products Prices North America

Steel Imports Down Sharply Through February: Import License Data

Written by David Schollaert

February license data indicate that steel imports will have totaled 2.19 million net tons last month, down 16.2% from January. February levels are also down 13.8% when compared to the previous 12-month average.

Recall that monthly import levels declined nearly 17% month on month (MoM) in November, before rebounding in December and January. February figures are now down nearly 29% compared to March 2022’s 26-month high of 3.09 million tons.

Broken down by product category, semifinished product imports in February fell by nearly 11% vs. the previous month, according to license data. Long product imports in February were down more than 14.2% MoM. Flat-rolled imports fell nearly 23%, and stainless imports were down 25.5%. Pipe and tube were also down MoM in February, falling nearly 13%.

US Steel Import Trend

Although imports were down for long stretches in 2022, the monthly average for last year totaled 2.57 million tons, down just 2.1% from the monthly average in 2021. Year-to-date, the monthly average is down 10.3% in 2023 vs. 2022.

US Steel Import Trend

Due to large monthly swings in semifinished imports in recent years, the chart below shows total imports on a three-month moving average (3MMA) basis to more accurately display trends. The 3MMA is 2.22 million tons through February license figures, among the lowest totals over the past two years.

Recall that in January of 2022, the 3MMA had reached a 42-month high of 2.94 million tons, while the lowest 3MMA level in SMU’s recent history was in November 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.

Imports Feb.23 License Tab1

The charts below show monthly imports for two product groups: flat-rolled and pipe and tube. February licenses for flat-rolled imports totaled 676,792 tons, the lowest total since January 2021.

License data indicates only 1.55 million tons of flat-rolled steel to have entered the country in January and February, well behind the 2.19 million tons during the same period in 2022. Pipe and tube imports were 512,914 tons in February, the lowest total over the past four months, but in line with levels seen over the past year.

Imports Feb.23 License Fig4

US Steel Import Trend

PSA: Use our interactive graphing tool, available here, to explore historical import data. If you need assistance logging into or navigating the website, contact us at

By David Schollaert,

David Schollaert

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