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With tariffs, imports fell by 11.5 percent last year

Workers unload imported steel coils off of a ship at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor in Portage. Steel imports fell by 11.5 percent last year.

Steel imports fell by 11.5 percent in 2018, largely as a result of the Section 232 tariffs of 25 percent on foreign-made steel.

The United States imported 33.7 million tons of steel last year, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute. That included 25.6 million tons of finished steel, down about 13.1 percent as compared to 2017.

Imports of finished steel grabbed 19 percent of the U.S. market share in December and 23 percent for the year. That's down significantly from the 30 percent import market share during the height of the import crisis in 2014, when mills were idled and thousands of steelworkers were laid off nationwide. ArcelorMittal said in its recently released annual report that the 23 percent import market share in the United States was in line with the recent historic average.

In December, the United States imported 1.8 million tons of steel, down 20.4 percent as compared to December 2017, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. Imports of finished steel fell 12.6 percent year-over-year in December to 1.6 million tons. 

Imports of heavy structural shapes rose by 20 percent and line pipe by 12 percent in December. That month, imports fell 9 percent from Germany, 17 percent from Vietnam, 53 percent from South Korea, 16 percent from Japan, and 10 percent from Turkey.

In 2018, imports of hot rolled sheets rose by 22 percent and plates in coils by 15 percent. Imports dropped by 26 percent from South Korea, 8 percent from Japan, 5 percent from Germany, 47 percent from Turkey and 48 percent from Vietnam.

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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.