Steel imports surged in March as demand for steel picked up in anticipation of the start of the spring construction season, but the market share of foreign-made metal continued to shrink.
Imports, widely blamed for nearly 12,000 announced layoffs nationally at steel mills last year, captured 24 percent of the U.S. market share in March and 25 percent of market share through the first three months of the year, according to the U.S. Commerce Department’s Steel Import Monitoring and Analysis data. That’s down significantly from the record 29 percent market share that wreaked such havoc on the domestic steel industry last year.
Both total and finished steel imports are down 33 percent for the first three months of the year, as compared to the same period in 2016, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.
The United States imported 2.9 million net tons of steel in March, a 23 percent increase over February. Finished steel imports totaled 2.1 million tons, a 1 percent increase from the previous month.
Standard rails imports rose by 387 percent in March as compared to February, while cut lengths plates were up 62 percent. Sheets and strip, heavy structural shapes and wire drawn all were also up.
South Korea sent 342,000 tons of steel to the United States in March, significantly more than any other county.
So far this year, the United States has imported 7.8 million tons of steel, including 6.4 million tons of finished steel that does not require any further processing in the United States, and therefore does not support any jobs here.
The largest three foreign suppliers of steel to the United States through the first three months of the years were South Korea, Turkey and Japan. South Korea has sent 960,000 tons of steel, more than any other country but 49 percent less than in the same period in 2015.