Imports from China were down “sharply in comparison with the first quarter of 2017, although this decline - which first became apparent in the second quarter of last year - has now stabilized,” the port authority said.

Exports from China to Europe have fallen as a result of a number of trade defence measures, including: definitive anti-dumping measures on hot-rolled coil set in April 2017, along with definitive anti-dumping tariffs imposed on cold-rolled coil in 2016 and on hot-dipped galvanized coil imports in 2018.

And Steel imports from India have gradually declined since peaking in the first half of 2017.

In the meantime, steel imports to Europe from Turkey and Russia have seen a sharp rise, according to the port authority.

Total HRC imports into the EU increased by 11.12% year on year to 1.34 million in January-February this year, according to data released by the European steel association Eurofer.

But while import offers of flat steel products into Northern Europe - where Antwerp is the leading port for steel - have been limited by the trade actions, the Southern European market continues to rely on imports, sources told Metal Bulletin.

Metal Bulletin’s weekly price assessment for HRC imported into Northern Europe was €530-540 ($656-668) per tonne cfr main ports on April 18. No offers of imported material were reported in the region this week, and the assessment represented “workable” prices reported by market sources.

HRC imports from Turkey to the whole of Europe jumped by 39.06% year-on-year to 413,000 tonnes in the first two months 2018, according to Eurofer, and imports from Russia increased nearly ten-fold to 303,000 tonnes in January-February 2018, compared with just 13,000 tonnes in the first two months of 2017.

Exports of steel products from Antwerp grew by 19.7% year-on-year in the first quarter.

“In comparison with the fairly weak first quarter of 2017 there has now been a strong revival in steel exports to the United States, with the month of March doing particularly well,” the port authority said. “There has clearly been an anticipatory effect in response to the American threat of import tariffs on various products including steel.”

European nations, along with a small number of other countries, have been temporarily exempted from the Section 232 import tariffs until May 1 this year.