Based on the US Commerce Department’s most recent steel import monitoring and analysis (SIMA) data, the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) reports that steel import permit applications for the month of July totalled 2.26Mt [all amounts listed are in net tons].

This figure represents a 20% decrease from the 2.83Mt tons recorded in June and an 18.9% drop from the June final imports total of 2.79Mt. Import permit tonnage for finished steel in July was 1.77Mt, down 11.2% from the final imports total of 1.99Mt in June. For the first seven months of 2023 (including July SIMA permits and June final imports), total and finished steel imports were 17.27Mt and 13.22Mt, down 11.3% and 15.9%, respectively, from the same period in 2022. The estimated finished steel import market share in July was 21% and is 22% year-to-date (YTD).

Steel imports with large increases in July permits versus June final imports include steel piling (up 39%), cold finished bars (up 26%), stainless pipe and tubing (up 24%), wire rods (up 23%) and heavy structural shapes (up 22%). Products with significant year-to-date (YTD) increases versus the same period in 2022 include standard rails (up 33%), electrical sheet and strip (up 29%), oil country goods (up 23%), cut lengths plates (up 18%) and line pipe (up 17%).

In July, the largest steel import permit applications were for Canada (521kt, down 17% from June final), Brazil (379kt, down 10%), Mexico (292kt, down 30%), South Korea (162kt, down 57%) and Japan (118kt, up 45%). Through the first seven months of 2023, the largest suppliers were Canada (4.16Mt, up 1%), Mexico (2.61Mt, down 23%) and Brazil (2.45Mt, up 36%).

According to the AISI, 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, preliminary estimates of which will be available later this month.