US steel exports in March surged 15% to more than 1Mt, but are still below levels recorded a year earlier, claims the American Institute for International Steel (AIIS).

Canada, the USA’s chief export market, boosted its total in March by more than 17% compared with February, and Mexico (which accounts for one third of US exports) imported more than 14%. Exports to the EU grew by 12% but represent less than 3% of the total.

Total US steel exports were down 5.5% over the same period last year and this can be attributed to significant drops in imported product from the USA’s smaller trading partners. There was, for instance, a 25% year-on-year decline in exports to EU countries.

The USA is, however, witnessing strong export growth in Venezuela, China and Brazil compared with 2013 and while those nations account for just 3.6% of US exports, that percentage is still over twice as large than a year ago. In fact, year-to-date exports to hese countries have increased significantly (by a factor of five in Venezuela) despite a 9.5% drop in total exports for the first three months of the year.

With a lot of the problems at the beginning of the year being weather-related and logistical issues, the strong recovery in steel exports to Canada and Mexico is a good sign, adding to the growing popularity of US steel in developing nations. If the uncertainty surrounding Ukraine continues, the AIIS believes this trend could accelerate and tighter sanctions are imposed on Russia.