US steel import licenses jump 14% on month in December: Commerce

Total US steel imports are expected to rise on the month and on the year for December amid higher import licenses for oil country tubular goods and hot-rolled coil to close out 2023, according to the US Commerce Department data Jan. 4.

Licenses to import steel in December stood at 2.09 million mt, up 14% from November’s preliminary import count of 1.83 million mt. Compared with a year ago, licenses to import steel rose 9% from just under 2 million mt imported in December 2022.

The estimated finished steel import market share in December was 21% and is 21% for the full year of 2023, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.


December US steel import licenses by product (carbon and alloy mt)
Product November preliminary December licenses Percent change (%)
Slab 303,414 326,022 7
HDG 166,426 184,244 11
Other semis 164,817 182,354 11
HRC 132,001 178,554 35
OCTG 69,327 151,861 119
Coiled plate 91,790 105,653 15
CRC 85,515 94,600 11
Wire rod 69,199 68,981 0
Coated sheet and strip 93,184 54,229 -42
Rebar 69,010 34,357 -50
Source: US Commerce Department


Import licenses for OCTG surged 119% on the month to 151,861 mt, with South Korea accounting for the largest share at 46,710 mt.

Licenses to import sheet products rose from November across all major categories, with HRC seeing the biggest jump at 178,554 mt, up 35% from the prior month’s preliminary total. Platts, part of S&P Global Commodity Insights, last assessed US HRC imports at $850/st DDP Houston Jan. 3.

Import licenses for hot-dipped galvanized steel and cold-rolled coil each rose 11% on the month to 184,244 mt and 94,600 mt, respectively.

Among major product categories, rebar imports are expected to see the steepest drop in December, with licenses down 50% on the month at 34,357 mt amid a lack of licenses from Algeria and Egypt. Platts last assessed the weekly US rebar import price at $770/st on a DDP Houston basis Dec. 29.

Despite a 7% drop on the month, Canada is expected to remain the largest exporter of steel to the US in December, with 452,569 mt of steel from the country licensed for import in the final month of 2023.


December US steel import licenses by country (carbon and alloy mt)
Country November preliminary December licenses Percent change (%)
Canada 484,510 452,569 -7
Brazil 344,769 405,859 18
Mexico 224,636 259,710 16
South Korea 127,717 273,213 114
Germany 47,402 89,938 90
Source: US Commerce Department