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Korea takes over as biggest steel exporter to the United States

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Korea emerges as major steel exporter

We’ve already seen how steel exports from Russia, Japan, and Mexico have come down in 2015. These countries are among the major steel exporters to the United States. However, the dynamics of US steel imports have changed dramatically over the last few quarters, and Korea has emerged as a major steel exporter to the United States.

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Korean exports surge

The above chart shows the increase in Korea’s steel exports. Korea accounted for almost a fifth of total US steel imports in January. It was the biggest steel exporter to the United States in January.

Korean steel exports have almost doubled in January on a year-over-year basis. The United States signed a free trade agreement with Korea a couple of years ago. Steel exports from Korea have increased multifold since then.

Oil country tubular goods

Korea is a major supplier of oil country tubular goods (or OCTG) products to the United States. These products are used in the energy industry. OCTG demand has come down sharply as crude oil prices have corrected by almost half. However, OCTG imports increased by ~37% in January on a year-over-year basis.

Earlier, we saw how U.S. Steel Corporation (X) shut down some of its plants that were producing OCTG products. Nucor (NUE) and ArcelorMittal (MT) are other major suppliers of OCTG products. These companies are also negatively hit by rising OCTG imports from Korea.

AK Steel (AKS) has a small exposure to OCTG products. It’s a major supplier to the automobile industry. Currently, AK Steel forms 3.06% of the SPDR S&P Metals and Mining ETF (XME).

Steel imports from Brazil have also surged in January. We’ll take a close look at this in the next part of this series.

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