Steel exports down 13.5 percent year-over-year

Rows of ArcelorMittal coils sit ready to be loaded onto the ship Pacific Huron at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor before their departure to Macedonia in 2011. U.S. steel exports fell 13.5 percent in March as compared to March 2015.

The United States exported 13.5 percent less steel in March than it did in March 2015, due largely to the stagnation of the Canadian economy.

U.S. steelmakers exported 775,270 tons of steel in March, about 0.5 percent less than in February, as its largest trade partner bought less steel, according to the American Institute for International Steel.

More than half of U.S. exports in March went to Canada. The United States sent about 400,906 net tons of steel north, or 2.1 percent less than in February and 5.3 percent less than in March 2015. The United States sent 289,544 net tons to Mexico in March, or about 20 percent less than in the same period last year.

“Two key factors for steel exporters in the United States continue to be the health of the Canadian and Mexican economies,” The American Institute for International Steel stated in a press release. “Some analysts are forecasting zero or, even, negative growth for Canada in the second quarter, partly because of the wildfires in Alberta. On the plus side, though, Mexico’s economic growth exceeded expectations during the first quarter, expanding at an annualized rate of 3.2 percent.”

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The U.S. dollar also remains strong, making American-made steel more expensive and less likely to be competitive on price abroad.

Total exports fell to 2.34 million net tons in the first quarter, a 13.5 percent decrease compared to the same period in 2015, according to The American Institute for International Steel. Exports to Canada dropped by 9.6 percent, while shipments to Mexico plunged by 15.9 percent.

Most dramatically, exports to the European Union, historically the third largest international buyer of U.S. steel, fell 48.8 percent.


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.