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US steel exports continue downward trend - AIIS

According to the American Institute for International Steel, US steel exports continued to trend downward in July, slipping 3.3% to just over 1 million net tonnes.

While exports to Canada were virtually unchanged from June to July at 536,892 net tonnes and the amount of steel sent to Mexico increased 7.4% to 366,732 net tonnes exports to most of the United States’ minor trading partners were down.

Brazil accounted for more than 40% of the overall decrease, with steel exports to that country dropping nearly 73% to 5,406 net tonnrs. The European Union brought in 26,664 net tonnes of American steel in July, 6.3% less than a month earlier. Steel exports to most countries were also substantially lower than they were in July 2013, though Mexico was up 3.8% from a year earlier.

For the first seven months of the year, steel exports decreased 6.6% from the same period in 2013 to 7.07 million net tonnes. Canada was down 5% to 3.77 million net tonnes while Mexico was up 2.7% to 2.42 million net tonnes. Year to date exports to the European Union decreased 17.4% to 198,900 net tonnes.

One of the few countries that has been buying more American steel this year is Russia, with 2014 exports to that nation increasing 124% to 12,346 net tonnes. That trend took a hit in July, though, as exports to Russia dipped 90% from 6.092 net tonnes in June to 595 net tonnes in July.

According to the AIIS, analysts continue to say that healthy and consistent economic growth is just ahead of us and, if this is true, it would almost certainly have a positive impact on steel sales. Nearly 90% of all steel exports go to North American Free Trade Agreement trading partners and a healthier American economy would likely be felt both north and south of the border.

The absence of protectionist policies means that trade between the US, Canada and Mexico is shaped by market forces. If and when the market strengthens and businesses gain confidence that the QoQ volatility that has been seen so far this year is unlikely to repeat itself, steel exports will likely grow stronger, as well.

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