April 2018 Steel Exports
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 negative impact of the trade war that President Trump seems intent on launching will be seen. The administration’s apparent willingness to blow up NAFTA and its decision not to exempt Canada and Mexico from its ill-advised 25 percent steel tariffs – followed by the disastrous G7 Summit and Trump’s verbal assault on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – will surely result in retaliation by the two biggest purchasers of American steel that will drive down exports from the United States. This, however, will certainly not be the last harm that is done to American manufacturers and consumers by protectionism.