Steel imports increased 4.6% in January 2013 compared to December 2012 according to preliminary government data.

David Phelps, president AIIS commented: “Import levels improved in January in a normal seasonal rebound from end of the year declines as many consumers and distributors delay purchases to January due to inventory tax costs at the end of December. On the other hand, imports remained almost 8.4% below January 2012, reflecting the lower levels of demand as a result of uncertainty at the time these imports are ordered caused by concerns related to the then looming fiscal cliff. The normal first quarter seasonal improvement in demand has apparently delayed as a result.”

Total Steel imports in January 2013 were 2.579M short tons compared to 2.466Mston in December 2012, a 4.6% increase, and an 8.4% decrease compared to January 2012. The data show that imported semifinished products decreased by 2.8% in January 2013 compared to January 2012, from 487kstons in 2012 to 473kstons in 2013, based on preliminary reporting.

The greatest amount of imports came from Canada (485kston up 3.6% Jan13/12) followed by EU (354 kston down -15.6%), a figure not far above Brazil and Korea which both supplied 349kstons, but while Brazil’s exports to USA were up 13.1%, those from Korea were near flat (down -0.2%). China, the source of the greatest worry to US steelmakers, supplied 165kston, up 62.1% on the 102kstons of January 2012, but accounting for just 6.4% of total steel imports in January 2013.