Alexandria, VA. - Steel exports fell almost 10 percent from May to June, dipping back below 1 million net tons for the month.
The 9.5 percent monthly decline put exports at 910,988 net tons, which was still 12.3 percent higher than the June 2016 total.
Exports to Canada plummeted by almost one-fourth to 431,212 net tons, 4.2 percent higher than a year earlier. A nearly 19 percent increase in exports to Mexico offset part of this, though, and the 381,974 net tons of steel that were sent south of the border marked an almost 21 percent increase from June of last year. Exports to the European Union were down more than 35 percent from May – but up more than 21 percent from June 2016 – at 26,489 net tons.
Through the first half of the year, exports increased more than 13 percent compared to last year, totaling 5.37 million net tons. Despite the June dip, year-to-date exports to Canada grew by nearly 11 percent to 2.69 million net tons, while exports to Mexico swelled more than 15 percent to 2.08 million net tons. Exports to the European Union were up by nearly half, at 183,858 net tons.
Notwithstanding the June dip, steel exports have clearly been having a good year. One sure way to end that positive trend would be to implement protectionist measures on steel imports that would inevitably invite retaliation by other countries. But with the Commerce Department apparently in no hurry to release the findings from its Section 232 investigation – which had been expected in June – and President Donald Trump making comments that suggest that shielding domestic manufacturers from foreign competition has become a lower priority for him, the administration may finally be heeding AIIS’ warnings about the economically devastating effects of tariffs and quotas. This would be good news for both importers and exporters – not to mention American businesses and consumers.