Based on the US Commerce Department’s most recent Steel Import Monitoring and Analysis (SIMA) data, the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) has reported that steel import permit applications for the month of December totalled 2.18Mt (net tons).

This was a 1.9% increase from the 2.14Mt (permit tons) recorded in November and an 8.8% increase from the November preliminary imports total of 2.00Mt.

Import permits data are counts of tonnages requested in applications for licenses to import steel products and are not actual import volumes. For a number of reasons, permit tonnages may understate or overstate actual import volumes for the month.

Import permit tonnage for finished steel in December was 1.85Mt, up 5.2% from the preliminary imports total of 1.75Mt in November. For the full year of 2022 (including December SIMA permits and November preliminary imports), total and finished steel imports were 30.8Mt (net tons) and 25.2Mt (net tons), down 2.0% and up 10.9%, respectively, from the same period in 2021. The estimated finished steel import market share in December was 23% and is 24% for the full year of 2022.

Steel imports with large increases in December permits versus November preliminary imports include standard rail (up 182%), line pipe (up 70%), ingots and billets and slabs (up 34%), sheets and strip hot dipped galvanized (up 25%) and reinforcing bars (up 22%). Products with significant increases for the full year of 2022 versus 2021 include line pipe (up 47%), standard pipe (up 45%), oil country goods (up 43%), heavy structural shapes (up 37%) and wire rods (up 31%).

In December, the largest steel import permit applications were for Canada (494kt, net tons), down 6% from November preliminary figures; Mexico (417kt net tons), up 66%; South Korea (203kt, net tons) up 46%; Japan (139kt, net tons) up 34%; and Germany (72kt, net tons), down 39%.

For the full year of 2022, the largest suppliers were Canada (6,83Mt, net tons), down 2%; Mexico (5,30Mt, net tons), up 11%; and South Korea (2,78Mt, net tons) up 1%.