Steel import permits rose in March although they were down for the first quarter of 2020.
Total steel import permit applications to the US totaled 2.32mn nt in March a 24pc increase from 1.87mn nt of permit applications in February and a 53.9pc increase in final imports of 1.51mn nt in February, according to American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) data.
Finished steel import permits in March increased by 14.6pc to 1.54mn nt from the final imports total of 1.35mn nt in February.
For the first three months of 2020, total steel imports, including March permit applications and February final imports decreased by 14.7pc to 6.98mn nt compared to the same period in 2019. Finished steel imports, including March permit applications and February final imports, were down 25pc at 4.54mn nt compared to Q1 2019.
The market share for finished steel imports is estimated the same—17pc—for March as well as the first three months of 2020.
Finished steel import permits that rose the most in March compared to February final imports include: oil country goods, which increased by 101pc; line pipe, (66pc); structural pipe and tubing, (57pc); tin free steel(47pc); cold rolled sheets, (34pc); hot rolled bars (34pc); cut lengths plates (28pc); wire rods (21pc); sheets and strip hot dipped galvanized (14pc); standard pipe (14pc); and wire drawn (14pc).
Products that increased substantially during the first three months of the year, compared to the same period in 2019 include tin free steel, which increased 35pc and mechanical tubing, which rose 17pc.
South Korea led the finished steel import permit applications for offshore countries in March at 231,000nt, a 46pc increase from February final imports. Taiwan saw a 99pc increase from the previous month at 65,000nt, while Germany was at 61,000nt, a 17pc increase. Turkey’s finished steel imports decreased 18pc to 60,000nt and Japan’s imports fell 18pc to 57,000nt.
The largest offshore suppliers for the first three months of 2020 were South Korea at 572,000nt, dropping 21pc, Japan at 203,000nt, dropping 39pc, and Turkey at 183,000nt, increasing by 43pc compared to the same period in 2019.
Note: import permit data is a total of tonnage requested in applications for steel import licenses and are not actual volumes. Preliminary estimates of actual import volume will be available later in April, per AISI.