Imports of steel into the US declined in the first half of the year, but exports continued to remain consistent for the ninth straight year according to the US Commerce Department. The latest snapshot of the country’s steel industry’s performance published by the department highlighted the volatility in the steel imports business through August 2019.
The US imported 18.8mn mt of steel mill products between January to August 2019, a 13.4pc decrease compared to 21.7mn mt during the same period in 2018. In value terms imports decreased by 15.7pc at $17.4bn during this time from $20.6bn last year.
The declines in steel mill products also resulted in a decrease of average monthly volumes which fell 28.1pc during this period from 2.5mn mt in 2018.
Flat products accounted for 33.8pc of total steel imports in the first eight months of the year, followed by semi-finished products that accounted for 25.9pc of total imports. Long products like tubes and pipe made up 22.4pc of total steel import into the country.
Brazil was the largest exporter of steel to the US, accounting for 18pc of total steel imports followed by Canada and Mexico at 16.7pc and 11.1pc respectively. Around 54pc of steel imports were made from other countries around the world.
The department also indicated that steel imports collectively decreased across the US, Canada, and Mexico by 12pc to 27.3mn mt in the first eight months of the year from 30.1mn mt during the same time last year. In July 2019 alone the steel imports of these three countries went down by 16pc from the previous year.
However, exports were consistent from the US during this time, the report revealed, with trade deficit narrowing by 42.7pc in August to 1.2mn mt compared with the same time last year. The volume of exports increased by 4.9pc from July to August 2019 to around 590,000mt from 560,000mt during the same time last year.
Prices, which continued to trend down until the recent hikes remained a concern for the business for most part of the year.
US domestic prices for hot rolled steel decreased to $629/mt in Sept, down almost 34.5pc compared to the previous year. Prices for cold rolled steel also decreased to $828/mt in Sept 2019 decreasing by 21.5pc from the previous year. The standard plate prices went down to $844/mt in Sept dropping by 22.2pc from the previous year.