The other side of the equation on trade is U.S. steel exports. America is the 14th largest steel exporter in the world, according to the International Trade Administration (ITC), although tonnage numbers dipped in September, October and November.
Although month-to-month numbers are subject to fluctuation, overall export tonnages have increased around 20 percent in the past nearly eight years, since mid-2009, the ITC reports. Through the first six full months of 2016, steel exports were down 11.4 vs. the same period in 2015.
The volume of overall U.S. steel exports has decreased every year since 2012 down 26.9 percent from 13.1 million tonnes in 2013 to 9.6 million tonnes in 2015, according to ITC figures. Flat steel products account for the majority of U.S. exports, followed by long products, pipe and tube products and semi-finished products.
Steel represents about 1 percent of all goods the U.S. exports annually, the ITC said. However, the U.S. exports steel to more than 200 countries and territories. The two biggest consumers of exported U.S. steel are Canada and Mexico.
The Canadian economy has been recovering, but a lack of confidence may be keeping steel use suppressed, according to the American Institute for International Steel (AIIS). Meanwhile, Mexico experienced its slowest quarterly growth in two years from July through September, expanding by just 2 percent, according to AIIS.
The U.S. exported 729,392 tonnes of steel in November, down 4.8 percent from 765,876 tonnes in October, 8.3 percent lower than 795,318 tonnes in September and 10.2 percent lower than 812,011 tonnes in August. (numbers for December were not available as of mid-January), according to data from the U.S. Commerce Department.
November represented the low point for the year to date, while Augusts tonnages were the high point. Monthly total export tonnage crested over 800,000 tonnes only three times last year, in May, June and August, although it never fell below 700,000 in any of the other months.