Steel export volume from the United States rose 2.2 percent in 2012 to a record high, but a slowdown in the last two months of the year raised concerns about 2013 business opportunities, a steel trade association said on Tuesday.
About 13.7 million short tons of U.S.-made steel were exported in 2012, beating a previous record set in 2008, according to the American Institute for International Steel (AIIS).
The 2012 record was set despite a steep decline in exports in the last part of the year, with December exports down almost 20 percent compared with the same month of 2011.
"The slow finish to 2012 and slow start of 2013 in the U.S. and international markets has clearly impacted international demand even in faster-growing developing countries," AIIS President David Phelps said in a statement.
"While setting a new record for exports of US-made steel is gratifying, the slump at the end of the year is cause for concern at least about early 2013 export business opportunities."
The growth in exports in 2012 was driven by a 20 percent increase in shipments to Mexico, association data showed.
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