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Steel imports fall 6.6% in March

Workers unload steel coils off of a ship at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor in Portage. Steel imports fell 6.6% in March.

The United States imported 2.27 million tons of steel in March, which was down 6.6% as compared to the previous month, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

The American Iron and Steel Institute reported that the U.S. imported 1.86 million net tons of steel that would require no further processing at service centers or steel mills in the United States. Net imports were up 6.7% in March as compared to the previous month.

Imports to the United States grabbed 19% of the market share in March and 21% so far this year. That's down significantly from the import crisis a few years ago, largely as a result of the Section 232 25% tariffs on nearly all foreign-made steel.

So far this year, the United States has imported 8.18 million tons of steel, which is down 5.9% as compared to the same period last year. Finished steel imports have declined by 11.4% year-over-year to 6 million net tons through the end of March.

In March, imports of heavy structural shapes rose by 39%, tin plate by 37%, sheets and strip-all other metallic coatings by 32%, oil country goods by 25%, wire rods by 15%, cold rolled sheets by 13%, plates in coils by 12% and hot rolled bars by 11%, according to the Washington D.C.-based AISI. So far this year, imports of line pipe are up 51% and reinforcing bars by 28%.

The largest offshore suppliers of steel to the United States in March were South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Germany and Vietnam. Imports were up 54% from Taiwan and 16% from Germany, and down 7% from South Korean and 20% from Japan, according to the AISI.

So far this year, the United States has imported 722,000 tons of steel from South Korea, 330,000 tons from Japan, 309,000 tons from Germany, 284,000 tons from Taiwan and 228,000 tons from Vietnam. Imports from South Korea were down by 24% and by 16% from Japan through the end of March.

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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.