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European Union slashes imports of Russian iron and steel products in 2023 amid sanctions

The main share of imports falls on semi-finished products – 69.4% of the total volume of deliveries

In 2023, the European Union reduced imports of iron and steel products from Russia by 39.5% compared to 2022, to 4.8 million tons. This is evidenced by Eurostat data.

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The cost of imports of Russian iron and steel products last year decreased by 38.5% compared to 2022, to €2.4 billion.

Semi-finished products accounted for the bulk of imports – 69.4% of total imports. During the year, the EU imported 3.11 million tons of the respective products from Russia, which is 16.6% less than in the previous year. Belgium accounted for the bulk of semi-finished products imports – 1.22 million tons (-16.8% y/y).

In 2023, iron ore supplies from the Russian Federation to the EU amounted to 332.3 thousand tons, down 88.2% compared to 2022. Most of the raw materials were shipped to Slovakia – 185.94 thousand tons (-66% y/y). Imports of ferroalloys amounted to 46.1 thousand tons (-63.9% y/y), pig iron – 1.4 million tons (+20.1% y/y), and scrap – 35.1 thousand tons (-95.3% y/y).

The main consumers of these Russian iron and steel products in 2023 were:

  • pig iron – Italy – 1.18 million tons (+22.1% y/y);
  • ferroalloys – the Netherlands – 34.5 thousand tons (-67.5% y/y);
  • scrap – Lithuania – 31.35 thousand tons (+84% y/y).

In December 2023, the EU increased the import of iron and steel products from the Russian Federation by 104.3% m/m, but decreased by 34.8% y/y – to 414.5 thousand tons. Import costs increased by 98.7% m/m and decreased by 17.5% y/y – to €185.2 million.

Despite the sanctions imposed on Russia, the Russian mining and metals sector continues to make significant profits from exporting products to the European Union. Although the figures are down significantly compared to 2022, with exports amounting to 7.92 million tons worth €3.87 billion last year, supplies are still high.

As GMK Center reported earlier, in the 12th package, the EU extended quotas on Russian slabs for another four years. The total quota for imports of this product from October 2024 to September 2028 is set at 8.5 million tons with a more detailed breakdown by period. The previous sanctions on slab imports were imposed in October last year as part of the 8th sanctions package. At that time, it was decided that it could last until the end of September 2024 within the established quotas, and that imports would cease on October 1, 2024. However, the 12th package of sanctions actually eased the previously imposed restrictions.

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