Alexandria, VA. June 12, 2018. Steel exports in April were largely unchanged from both a month earlier and a year earlier.
The United States exported 861,005 net tons of steel in April, down just under 1 percent from March but up almost a half-percent from April 2017. Exports to Canada dipped 4.5 percent from March to 443,231 net tons, a 2 percent increase from a year earlier, while exports to Mexico jumped 9.2 percent month-to-month to 323,687 net tons, though this marked a 3.1 percent decline from the previous April. Exports to the European Union, despite a 6.2 percent decrease from March, were nearly 30 percent higher than in April of last year at 33,571 net tons.
Through the first third of the year, exports were down 2.5 percent at 3.37 million net tons. More than half of that amount – 1.73 million net tons – went to Canada, a 2.7 percent increase over last year, and more than a third – 1.24 million net tons – was sold to Mexico, a drop of more than one-tenth compared to 2017. Year-to-date exports to the European Union totaled 139,014 net tons, a nearly 20 percent increase from a year prior.
Steel exports will likely be one of the first areas where the harsh consequences of the increased traderelated conflict with our NAFTA partners will be seen. The Administration’s deconstruction of NAFTA, creating what the Wall Street Journal termed “a looming NAFTA debacle,” its decision not to exempt Canada and Mexico from its ill-advised 25 percent steel tariffs, and the unnecessary stresses placed on hemispheric and trans-Atlantic concord as a result of the just concluded, poorly planned G7 Summit, will likely roil trade relations even more, and result in retaliation by the two biggest purchasers of American steel, driving down exports from the United States. If the Administration ultimately places national security-related import restrictions on automobiles and auto parts, as it apparently wants to do, steel tariffs will certainly not be the last harm that is done to American manufacturers and consumers by protectionism.