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Steel and Aluminum: Trade You Can Track

June 28, 2021

Eric Anderson is an International Trade Specialist in the Enforcement & Compliance Office of Communications

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Circular saw cutting through a pipe throwing off sparks. Image from Unsplash.com

While you may not regularly think about it, there are few commodities more ubiquitous in our lives than steel and aluminum. From consumer electronics to aerospace technology, we are constantly surrounded by products that contain these two important metals. In fact, that device you are using right now is made of steel; and that can of carbonated water in your hand is made from aluminum. In 2020, the United States was the world’s fifth largest producer of crude steel and the ninth largest producer of primary aluminum. As such, the global steel and aluminum trade impacts our everyday lives and, as a result, has great national importance.

Even though we produce a lot of steel and aluminum domestically, the United States’ large domestic market almost always needs more than it can supply. To bridge the shortage, many different types of steel and aluminum are imported into the U.S. market. But where does all of this imported steel and aluminum come from? To get a closer look at how these commodities enter the U.S. market, ITA’s Enforcement and Compliance (E&C) business unit developed Steel and Aluminum Import Monitors, which are unique tools that provide greater transparency in trade flows and import trends for these iconic industries.

Aluminum Import Monitor

Members of the public are now able to see where imports of aluminum were produced thanks to our new interactive tool, the Aluminum Import Monitor (AIM). On June 28, 2021, importers of aluminum will be required to apply for a free license which will include information such as type of product, country of origin, and value or volume, etc. These license data will be integrated into the monitor, in aggregate, to provide the same early indicators to changing import trends as the Steel Import Monitor. Data obtained through the program will help identify surges in imports of specific aluminum products, including possible anomalies in the trade of aluminum products subject to import duties, which bolsters the effectiveness of existing trade remedy measures. The AIM also allows users to obtain and analyze data in the form of graphs, maps, and tables

Steel Import Monitor

The sister program to AIM, our Steel Import Monitor, for nearly two decades has provided the public with near real-time aggregate data on steel mill imports into the United States. This monitoring tool assists E&C and the steel industry, for example, in identifying import trends and changes as well as potential circumvention and evasion. With these numbers, steel industry watchers are able to pick up on any early indicators of import trends, and make important business decisions. Earlier this year, E&C enhanced the original version of this dashboard by using additional data collected through the steel licenses to provide more product level detail to platform users.

Steel Melt and Pour Dashboard

This innovative, first-of-its-kind tool displays data from Commerce’s new ‘melt and pour’ dashboard, which has recently been unveiled and available to the public. The supply chain view in the dashboard shows where U.S. imported steel was first produced and where it was further processed into the imported steel mill product. Just like how “farm to table” is all about knowing where food comes from, the melt and pour dashboard enables users to get a glimpse at the supply chain of steel.

These monitoring tools provide E&C with more data about the supply chain of finished steel imports into the United States. This data aids E&C’s ability to monitor for anomalies in trade patterns, which can help E&C and the domestic manufacturers to identify potential transshipment and circumvention of U.S. antidumping and countervailing duty orders, which are an important remedy that protect American businesses and workers from unfairly traded foreign products.