Steel imports soar 30.6 percent year over year

3 May 2017

An expected crackdown on steel imports has not yet materialized, as steel imports skyrocketed by 30.6 percent year-over-year to 3.4 million net tons in March, according to the American Institute for International Steel.

The Falls Church, Virginia-based steel industry trade association reported imports were up 24.7 percent in March as compared to February. Steel imports grew by double digits from major trading partners the European Union, Brazil, South Korea, Canada and Mexico.

Most dramatically, imports of steel spiked by 71.4 percent to 389,000 tons from the EU, according to the American Institute for International Steel.

Canada sent over the most steel from January to March, 1.6 million tons, followed by Brazil with 1.16 million tons.

"The steel import numbers provide encouragement at a time when other economic indicators are not as positive," AIIS said in a press release. "Economic growth in the first quarter was just 0.7 percent, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, but the sharp increase in steel purchases indicates that companies are investing and building, something that may be reflected in gross domestic product calculations in the next quarter or two."

Steel imports captured 26 percent of the U.S. market share in March, and have 25 percent so far this year, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

So far this year, the United States has imported 8.9 million tons of steel, an 18.7 percent increase as compared to the first three months of 2016. Imports of finished steel, which doesn't require any further processing in the United States, have risen 7.8 percent year-over-year to 6.92 million tons.

Imports of heavy structural shapes were up 83 percent year-over-year in March, while imports of hot rolled sheets rose by 53 percent over the same period, according to AISI.