U.S. steel imports dropped more than 11 percent in June, the first monthly decline since March, according to the American Institute for International Steel.
The United States imported 3.6 million net tons of steel in June, 11.1-percent less than in May. For the second month in a row, the European Union exported the most steel to the United States, with 639,000 net tons, though this was just more than 3 percent less than the previous month’s total.
Steel imports from Canada were up just more than 1 percent to 534,000 net tons, while imports from South Korea dropped almost 22 percent to 457,000 net tons, this after a 45-percent increase in May. Brazil exported nearly the same amount of steel as South Korea to the United States — 456,000 net tons, 5.6-percent more than in May, while imports from Mexico were up almost 31 percent to 407,000 net tons.
“Steel imports from nearly all trading partners were significantly higher than they were in June 2013, with Brazil leading the way with a more than 150 percent, year-over-year, increase,” AIIS said.
However, the association noted year-to-date imports, at 21 million net tons, are still 34-percent higher than they were through the first half of 2013.
The decrease in imports for June “could be, at least in part, a reflection of lingering economic uncertainty. The nearly 3-percent drop in GDP in the U.S. during the first quarter may have shaken business confidence, in addition to producing some excess inventory, lowering the demand for steel. If the economy improves, steel purchases likely will as well,” the association said.
AIIS noted that another factor that could affect steel imports during the rest of the year is the decision by the U.S. Commerce Department to impose duties on steel imports from nine countries, most notably South Korea, which accounts for more than half of oil country tubular goods (OCTG) imports. “These protectionist measures could exert downward pressure on imports — and upward pressure on prices,” the association said.