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Steel imports shoot up by 34 percent in March

Steel coils sit on wagons when leaving the Thyssenkrupp steel factory in Duisburg, Germany in March. Steel imports from Germany are up 27 percent this year.

The Trump administration's Section 232 tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports from most countries didn't initially make much of an impact on steel imports.

The United States imported 3.32 million tons of steel in March, up 34.2 percent from February, according to preliminary U.S. Census Bureau data. That included 2.4 million tons of finished steel products, a 23 percent increase over the previous month.

Imports grabbed 26 percent of the U.S. market share in March, and 25 percent of the market share so far this year, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute. 

In March, imports of reinforcing bars rose by 215 percent, plates in coils by 60 percent, cold rolled sheets by 42 percent, hot rolled sheets by 42 percent, sheets and strip hot dipped galvanized by 30 percent, standard pipe by 27 percent, oil country goods by 27 percent, mechanical tubing by 27 percent, and sheets and strip all other metallic coatings by 12 percent.

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So far this year, imports of oil country goods have increased by 41 percent, hot rolled sheets by 39 percent, plates in coils by 33 percent, mechanical tubing by 26 percent, hot rolled bars by 17 percent and line pipe by 10 percent.

Year-to-date imports are down 3 percent to 8.6 million tons, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute. Imports of finished products that would not require any further processing at U.S. service centers has dropped by 1.7 percent to 6.8 million tons over the first three months of the year.

South Korea, Japan, Turkey, Germany and Taiwan have been the largest offshore suppliers of imported steel over the first three months of the year. Imports from Germany have risen by 27 percent, and are up 6 percent from South Korea.

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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.