US steel imports jump 43% in 2021; HRC shipments near double

Total US steel imports in 2021 climbed 43% year over year, with significant increases seen in hot-rolled coil and Russian slab shipments, according to Commerce Department data released Feb. 25.

The US imported 28.58 million mt of steel in the year, up from 20.03 million mt in 2020, marking the highest import volume since 30.63 million mt in 2018.

HRC imports nearly doubled in 2021, reaching 2.77 million mt, up from 1.47 million mt in 2020, representing the largest gain in import volumes for the flat product category.

For other flat products during the year, hot-dipped galvanized sheet imports rose 34% to 2.67 million mt, imports of cold-rolled coil increased 27% to 1.33 million mt, and other coated sheet and strip shipments increased 69% to 1.04 million mt.

Imports of slab surged 61% year over year to 5.47 million mt, while imports of non-slab semis ticked up 16% to 2.04 million mt.

In other major product categories, imports of oil country tubular goods and rebar climbed 69% to 1.66 million mt and 23% to 1.21 million mt, respectively.

Canada was the top supplier of steel to the US in 2021, with imports totaling 6.33 million mt, up from 4.76 million mt the previous year. Mexico was the second-largest supplier at 4.32 million mt, up from 3.01 million mt last year.

Brazil, South Korea and Russia were the third-, fourth- and fifth-largest steel suppliers to the US in 2021, respectively.

Imports from Russia more than tripled in 2021, rising 276% year over year to 1.47 million mt, boosted by shipments of slab that hit 1.1 million mt, up from 98,064 mt in 2020.

Steel shipments from Vietnam also increased significantly, as imports were up 200% year over year to 855,681 mt.

The finished steel import market share was an estimated 21% in full-year 2021, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

— Nick Lazzaro