NEW YORK Increased line pipe and heavy structural product shipments helped lift steel exports in March, data from the Commerce Departments Import Administration show.
Exports for the month totaled 997,820 tonnes, up 6.1 percent month on month but down 8.6 percent from the 1.09 million tonnes shipped abroad in the same month last year.
"The stronger showing for steel exports in March was due primarily to increased shipments to our Nafta (North American Free Trade Agreement) partners, but notably, exports increased to all other smaller export markets as well, with the exception of the small markets in Africa," David Phelps, president of the Washington-based American Institute for International Steel, said in a statement. "While the trend might hold for our Nafta trading partners going forward, the small increase in exports to the (European Union) is open to question given economic challenges faced there. The increase in non-Nafta Western Hemisphere exports is encouraging."
The most notable export gains were in heavy structural shapes, up 16.7 percent month on month to 92,771 tonnes in March, and line pipe, up 92 percent to 64,080 tonnes.
Meanwhile, significant drops were seen in exports of semifinished material, down 55.2 percent to 23,887 tonnes.
"While demand conditions in some critical steel markets remain healthy in the Nafta region, providing some reason for optimism going forward, it is difficult to predict the direction of other international markets that have become increasingly important export destinations for U.S.-made steel," Phelps added.