Based on the Commerce Department’s most recent Steel Import Monitoring and Analysis data, the American Iron and Steel Institute reported that steel import permit applications for the month of December totalled 2,071,000 net tons. This was a 48.1% increase from the 1,399,000 permit tons recorded in November and a 51.2% increase from the November preliminary imports total of 1,370,000net ton. Import permit tonnage for finished steel in December was 1,326,000net ton, up 12.2% from the preliminary imports total of 1,181,000net ton in November. For the full year 2020 (including December SIMA permits and November preliminary imports), total and finished steel imports were 22,597,000 net ton and 16,125,000 net ton, down 19.1% and 23.4%, respectively, from 2019. The estimated finished steel import market share in December was 18% and is 18% for full year 2020.
Finished steel imports with large increases in December permits vs. the November preliminary imports include line pipe (up 219%), electrical sheets and strip (up 193%), oil country goods (up 158%), tin free steel (up 103%), plates in coils (up 40%), hot rolled sheets (up 33%), sheets and strip all other metallic coatings (19%), and hot rolled bars (up 17%). Products with significant increases for full year 2020 vs. 2019 include tin free steel (up 25%) and light shapes bars (up 21%).
In December, the largest finished steel import permit applications for offshore countries were for South Korea 240,000 net ton up 88% vs. November preliminary, Germany 70,000 net ton up 5%, Japan 59,000 net ton up 28%, The Netherlands 52,000 net ton up 2% and Brazil 49,000 net ton up 168%. For full year 2020, the largest offshore suppliers were South Korea 2,033,000 net ton, down 21% from 2019, Japan 770,000 net ton down 38% and Germany 729,000 net ton down 30%.