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Steel imports shoot up by 17 percent in January

Workers unload a rail wagon loaded with coils of steel panels, in the city of Smederevo, 45 kilometers east of Belgrade, Serbia. Imports rose by 17 percent in January.

Darko Vojinovic, Associated Press

Steel imports continue to rise despite a threat of 24 percent across-the-board tariffs, jumping by 17 percent in January.

The American Iron and Steel Institute reported the United States imported 2.87 million tons of steel in January, up 17.3 percent in December. Imports of finished steel grew 23.8 percent to 2.32 million tons in January.

Imports of sheets and strip all other metallic coatings skyrocketed by 129 percent in January. Imports of reinforcing bars rose by 82 percent, oil country goods 78 percent, line pipe 44 percent, standard pipe 30 percent, hot rolled sheets 27 percent, hot rolled bars 22 percent, wire drawn 14 percent, mechanical tubing 12 percent and plates in coils 11 percent.

Foreign-made steel captured 26 percent of the U.S. market share in January, down from a near-record 28 percent in 2017, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

Imports from South Korea rose 77 percent to 339,000 tons in January, while imports from Japan shot up by 73 percent to 141,000 tons. In January, imports also increased by 141 percent from Turkey, 188 percent from Taiwan and 6 percent from Brazil.

The Trump administration is weighing whether to act on the U.S. Department of Commerce's recommendation to impose universal tariffs of 24 percent on steel imports, tariffs of up to 53 percent on select countries known to violate international trade rules and quotas that would limit imports by as much as a third.


Business reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.