International Steel Prices

US CR prices dip, but imports remain cheaper

Written by David Schollaert

Offshore cold-rolled (CR) coil prices are cheaper than domestic product despite US CR coil prices ticking lower.

Domestic CR coil tags stand at $995 per short ton (st) on average, down $25/st vs. our prior check of the market on Tuesday, June 18. (We will update prices again on Tuesday, June 25.)

All told, US CR prices are on average still 16.5% more expensive than imports. While still high, the US CR premium is down from 31.5% in early January.

In dollar-per-ton terms, US CR is now on average $135/st more expensive than offshore product – down from $149/st in our prior check of the market. Thanks mostly to price decreases stateside, the premium is also down from a recent peak of $311/st from mid-January (Figure 1).

The charts below compare CR coil prices in the US, Germany, Italy, South Korea, and Japan. The left-hand side highlights prices over the last two years. The right-hand side zooms in to show more recent trends.


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/st 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/st figure as a benchmark and adjust up or down based on their own shipping and handling costs. (Editor’s note: 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, June 20, the CRU Asian CR price was $617/st, down $9/st w/w. Adding a 71% anti-dumping duty (Japan theoretical), and $90 per ton in estimated import costs, the delivered price to the US is $1,145/st.

The South Korean theoretical price is $707/st. The latest SMU cold rolled average of $995/st places US-produced CR theoretically $150/st cheaper than steel imported from Japan. But US tags are still $288/st more costly than cold rolled imported from South Korea.

Italian cold-rolled coil

Italian CR prices were down $5/st to roughly $718/st this week. After adding import costs, the delivered price of Italian CR is in theory $808/st.

That means domestic CR is theoretically $187/st more expensive than CR coil imported from Italy. The spread is down $20/st from last week and down $266/st from a recent high of $453/st in mid-December.

German cold-rolled coil

CRU’s German CR price ticked down $15/st. After adding import costs, the delivered price of German cold rolled is in theory $781/st.

The result: Domestic CR is theoretically $214/st more expensive than CR imported from Germany. The spread is down $10/st w/w and well below a recent high of $431/st during the first week of 2024.

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. In most market cycles, domestic steel will deliver more quickly than foreign steel. Note also that, 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 a tariff.

David Schollaert

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