Based on the Commerce Department’s most recent Steel Import Monitoring and Analysis (SIMA) data, the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) reports that steel import permit applications for the month of May totaled 2,943,000 net tons (NT)*. This was a 26.3% decrease from the 3,993,000 permit tons recorded in April and a 21.3% decrease from the April preliminary imports total of 3,738,000 NT.
Import permit tonnage for finished steel in May was 2,347,000, down 17.9% from the preliminary imports total of 2,860,000 in April. For the first five months of 2018 (including May SIMA permits and April preliminary data), total and finished steel imports were 15,379,000 NT and 12,044,000 NT, down 2.5% and 0.3%, respectively, from the same period in 2017. The estimated finished steel import market share in May was 25% and is 26% year-to-date (YTD).
Finished steel imports with large increases in May permits vs. the April preliminary included tin free steel (up 68%) and wire rods (up 64%). Products with significant year-to date (YTD) increases vs. the same period in 2017 include hot rolled sheets (up 36%), plates in coils (up 36%), mechanical tubing (up 22%), line pipe (up 22%) and oil country goods (up 19%).
In May, the largest finished steel import permit applications for offshore countries were for Germany (138,000 NT, up 15% from April preliminary), Japan (123,000 NT, up 25%), South Korea (113,000 NT, down 76%), Italy (80,000 NT, up 34%) and Taiwan (76,000 NT, down 34%). Through the first five months of 2018, the largest offshore suppliers were South Korea (1,531,000 NT, down 1% from the same period last year), Japan (615,000 NT, down 7%) and Germany (547,000 NT, up 13%).
* Monthly permit numbers provided to date may be understated, as entry documentation with the required import license number may be submitted up to ten days after imports have entered U.S. commerce.