The confluence of a safeguarding system and diminished demand caused EU flat and long steel imports to decline in the first 10 months of 2019.
Compared to the same 10-month period in 2018, imports fell 3mn mt to 22.2mn mt between January and October 2019. Long steel imports decreased by 1.3mn mt to 4.9mn mt, and flats declined 1.5mn mt to 17.2mn mt during this period.
The safeguard system—a series of import quotas introduced by the EU to offset the 25pc tariff imposed by the US on the continent’s shipments in 2019—not only reduced the overall import volumes of steel, but also increased the volatility in monthly import volumes.
New quotas became available in July 2019, resulting in flat imports doubling by over 2.5mn mt compared to June. That same month, the increase in long steel by 1.1mn mt beat a previous record set in July 2007 by 100,000mt.
However, the second half of 2019 saw languid import activity with August, September, and October data revealing declines in flat and long products compared to the same months in 2018. While the data for November and December hasn’t been released, the numbers for these months are expected to be weaker than the same period in 2018.