International Steel Prices

US CR tags still nearly 30% more than imports

Written by David Schollaert

Foreign cold-rolled (CR) coil remains much less expensive than domestic product, according to SMU’s latest check of the market.

All told, US CR prices are now 28.8% more than imports. The premium ticked down from 30% last week, though still not far from the high of 31.5% in early January.

In dollar-per-ton terms, US CR is now on average $264 per short ton (st) more than offshore product, down just $12 week over week (w/w) on average. While the premium is down – largely due to a decrease in stateside prices – the premium is not far from the recent peak of $311/st from mid-January.

This week, domestic CR tags were $1,130/st on average based on SMU’s latest check of the market on Tuesday, April 23, down $10/st w/w and edging down for a second straight week.


This is how SMU calculates the theoretical spread between domestic CR prices (FOB domestic mills) and foreign CR prices (delivered to US ports): We compare SMU’s US CR weekly index to the CRU CR weekly indices for Germany, Italy, and East Asia (Japan and South Korea). This is only a theoretical calculation. Import costs can vary greatly, influencing the true market spread.

We add $90 per short ton to all foreign prices as a rough means of accounting for freight costs, handling, and trader margin. This gives us an approximate CIF US ports price to compare to the SMU domestic CR price. Buyers should use our $90-per-st figure as a benchmark and adjust up or down based on their own shipping and handling costs. If you import steel and want to share your thoughts on these costs, please get in touch with the author at

East Asian cold-rolled coil

As of Thursday, April 24, the CRU Asian CR price was $621/st, up $4/st w/w yet down just $5/st from a month prior. Adding a 71% anti-dumping duty (Japan theoretical), and $90 per ton in estimated import costs, the delivered price to the US is $1,153/st.

The South Korean theoretical price is $711/st. The latest SMU cold rolled average is $1,1130/st, down $10/st w/w, and up just $15/st compared to one month ago.

The result: US-produced CR is now theoretically $23/st cheaper than steel imported from Japan but still a whopping $419/st more costly than cold rolled imported from South Korea.

Italian cold-rolled coil

Italian CR prices were down $4/st to roughly $711/st this week. Italian prices are down just $40/st from a month ago. After adding import costs, the delivered price of Italian CR is in theory $801/st.

That means domestic CR is theoretically $329/st more expensive than CR imported from Italy. The spread is up $9/st from last week, but the domestic cold band price premium over offshore product from Italy is still $124/st from a recent high of $453/st in mid-December.

German cold-rolled coil

CRU’s German CR price ticked down just $1/st vs. the week prior to $708/st. After adding import costs, the delivered price of German cold rolled is in theory $798/st.

The result: Domestic CR is theoretically $332/st more expensive than CR imported from Germany. The spread is $99/st below a recent high of $428/st during the first week of 2024.

Figure 5 compares all five price indices. The chart on the left shows historical variation from Feb. 1, 2022. The chart on the right zooms in to highlight the recent volatility in US pricing since mid-2023.

Notes: We reference domestic prices as FOB the producing mill, while foreign prices are CIF the port (Houston, NOLA, Savannah, Los Angeles, Camden, etc.). Inland freight from either a domestic mill or a port is important to keep in mind when deciding where to source from. It’s also important to factor in lead times too. In most market cycles, domestic steel will deliver more quickly than foreign steel.

Section 232 tariffs are no longer considered in these prices. That’s because, effective Jan. 1, 2022, the blanket 25% Section 232 tariff was removed from most imports from the European Union. It was replaced by a tariff rate quota (TRQ). Therefore, the German and Italian price comparisons in this analysis no longer include a 25% tariff. A similar TRQ with Japan went into effect on April 1, 2022. South Korea is subject to a hard quota rather than the 25% tariff.

David Schollaert

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