Source: S&P Global Platts
US steel import volumes are expected to be 46% higher in December as steel import licenses for Brazil surged 6,000% and volumes of semi-finished steel are expected to increase 324%, according to final license data released by the US Department of Commerce Thursday.
Brazil was the largest exporter of steel to the US in December, with licenses to import steel from the country totaling 622,443 mt, a significant increase compared with November's preliminary import count of 10,175 mt.
The surge occurred amid US President Donald Trump's announcement in December that the US would begin to enforce Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Brazil and Argentina. The White House ultimately did not impose the tariffs.
Total import licenses for December reached 2.04 million mt, up about 46% compared with November's preliminary count of 1.4 million mt. The estimated finished steel import market share was 15% in December and 19% for full-year 2019, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.
Licenses to import semi-finished steel – blooms, billets and slabs – substantially increased to 832,802 mt in December, compared with November's preliminary count of 196,370 mt.
Imports of hot-rolled coil are also expected to rise roughly 13.7% to 133,277 mt in December, up from November's preliminary total of 117,254 mt.
Licenses to import line pipe saw the third largest increase month over month, totaling 85,612 mt in December, an increase of 12% compared with November's preliminary import count of 76,208 mt.
Other major imported steel products are expected to be lower in December. Licenses to import oil country goods saw the biggest decline of 14% to 94,598 mt in December, compared with a preliminary import total of 110,410 mt in November, while licenses to import cold-rolled coil dropped 8% to 85,027 mt in December, down from November's preliminary import count of 92,664 mt.
Licenses to import hot-dip galvanized sheet remained fairly steady at 144,984 mt in December, a 1% fall compared with November's preliminary import count of 146,327 mt.