US imports of Russian metals drop to near-zero

13 Sep, 2022 06:22

Russian producers are turning to Asian markets for iron and steel exports

US imports of Russian metals drop to near-zero

Russian ferrous metals exports to the US nosedived to $0.6 million in July compared to $201 million the previous month, and more than $1 billion in the first half of 2022, Russian business daily RBK reported on Monday, citing the data from the US Census Bureau.

In June, ferroalloys made up the lion’s share of ferrous metals exports to the US, which amounted to $112.5 million, along with semi-finished iron and steel produce, worth $88 million. In July, the shipments dropped to $0.4 million and zero respectively.

Last year, US imports of Russian ferrous metals including cast iron, iron, steel, and rolled metal amounted to $2.77 billion, an average of $230 million per month. Back then, the US accounted for nearly 9% of all Russian exports of ferrous metals.

In April, the Group of Seven nations revoked Russia’s “most favored nation” trade status in response to the conflict in Ukraine. The status had guaranteed low tariffs on Russian goods sold globally since 2012.

In late June, Washington released its final list of Russian goods targeted by 35% import tariffs as part of Ukraine-related sanctions. The items include steel and several types of steel products.

The prohibitive costs prompted Russia to reorient towards alternative markets. In June, the list of the major importers of Russian ferrous metals included Turkey, which purchased products worth $546 million. 

China has significantly increased purchases of Russian iron and steel, from $163.5 million in June to $337.4 million in July, according to UN foreign trade data and the General Administration of Customs of China. In July 2021, Beijing imported just $84.5 million worth of Russian ferrous metals.

Mexico, Taiwan, Middle East countries and India are also reportedly becoming major buyers. In August, the Russian Trade Ministry reported that the share of the Asian states in metal exports topped 50% compared to 10-20% recorded earlier. However, Russian companies are having to sell metals at significant discounts of 25% or more, according to Fastmarkets data, quoted by the media.

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