US Uranium Imports by Supplying Country

Nuclear power plant (courtesy of Pixabay.com)

Nuclear power plant

In 2018, America purchased a total US$2.1 billion worth of enriched and natural uranium from 14 trade partners around the globe. That dollar amount reflects an -18.2% reduction from the $2.6 billion that the US spent on imported uranium 5 years earlier in 2014, but a 4.1% year-over-year gain from 2017 to 2018.

Uranium is a silvery-white metal with unique nuclear properties. The main non-military use of uranium is as a fuel for nuclear power plants. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, nuclear power plants process a specific type of uranium known as U-235 as fuel because its atoms are split apart relatively easily.

US import data presented below is separated into two distinct forms. Enriched U-235 uranium is recorded under six-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code 284420 in contrast to 284410 for natural uranium and its compounds.

Of the $2.1 billion in American uranium imports during 2018, 81.4% ($1.7 billion) was for international purchases of enriched uranium. That percentage compares to 18.6% ($397.7 million) for imported natural uranium and related compounds.

Countries Exporting Uranium to America

Enriched

Below are the 12 countries from which the United States purchased $1.7 billion in enriched U-235 uranium during 2018. The US cut back on its enriched uranium imports by -26% since 2014.

  1. Russia: US$666.3 million (38.3% of US enriched uranium imports)
  2. Netherlands: $449.6 million (25.9%)
  3. Germany: $287.4 million (16.5%)
  4. United Kingdom: $252.4 million (14.5%)
  5. China: $60.3 million (3.5%)
  6. Japan: $17.8 million (1.0%)
  7. Kazakhstan: $3.4 million (0.2%)
  8. Canada: $428,000 (0.02%)
  9. Sweden: $329,000 (0.02%)
  10. Belgium: $52,000 (0.003%)
  11. France: $12,000 (0.001%)
  12. Australia: $8,000 (0.0005%)

Four countries boosted their sales of enriched uranium to America from 2014 to 2018, namely Canada (up 625.4%), Australia (up 100%), Germany (up 37.1%) and Japan (up 14.5%).

Leading the decliners over the 5-year period were France (down -99.98%) trailed by Kazakhstan (down -82.1%), China (down -67.5%) then the United Kingdom (down -47.5%).

Natural

Below are the 7 countries from which the United States bought $397.7 million worth of natural uranium including its compounds during 2018. America boosted its natural uranium imports by 50.8% since 2014.

  1. Canada: US$369.9 million (93% of US natural uranium imports)
  2. Kazakhstan: $18.9 million (4.8%)
  3. South Africa: $7.7 million (1.9%)
  4. Japan: $1.1 million (0.3%)
  5. South Korea: $37,000 (0.01%)
  6. France: $12,000 (0.003%)
  7. United Kingdom: $9,000 (0.002%)

Fastest-growing among suppliers of natural uranium to America from 2014 to 2018 were the United Kingdom (up 350%) trailed by Canada (up 58.3%) then South Africa (up 31.4%).

In contrast, South Korea’s exports of natural uranium to the US in 2018 fell in value by -88.8% since 2014.

Deficit Creators

America does produce and sell its own uranium on international markets. In 2018, the United States shipped $132.4 million worth of enriched uranium to its trade partners plus another $253.3 million of natural uranium.

However, American revenues from exported enriched uranium fall far short of the $1.7 billion that the US spent on imported enriched uranium thus resulting in a -$1.6 billion product category deficit in 2018. Similarly, America shipped $253.3 million worth of natural uranium compared to $397.7 million in US imports of natural uranium thus generating America’s -$144.4 million negative trade balance for natural uranium in 2018.

Below you will find the 8 countries that caused America’s country-specific deficits from buying and selling enriched uranium on international markets, incurring a subtotal deficit of -$1.7 billion for 2018.

  1. Russia: US-$666.3 million (product deficit down -25% since 2014)
  2. Netherlands: -$447.3 million (down -5%)
  3. Germany: -$287.4 million (up 45.5%)
  4. United Kingdom: -$251.3 million (down -42.2%)
  5. China: -$60.3 million (down -67.5%)
  6. Canada: -$383,000 (reversing a $1.9 million surplus)
  7. Sweden: -$329,000 (reversing an $18.1 million surplus)
  8. Australia: -$8,000 (up 100.0%)

The following 5 trade partners created a subtotal US deficit totaling -$375.7 million during 2018 specifically for natural uranium.

  1. Canada: -US$349.1 million (product deficit up 88.5% since 2014)
  2. Kazakhstan: -$18.9 million (2014 data unavailable)
  3. South Africa: -$7.7 million (up 31.3%)
  4. South Korea: -$20,000 (down -87%)
  5. France: -$9,000 (reversing a $5,000 surplus)


 

See also US Iron and Steel Imports by Supplier Countries, America’s Top Trading Partners, United States Top 10 Imports and US Aluminum Imports by Supplying Country

Research Sources:
Gabriel Friedman for the National Post, How U.S.-Russia tensions could revive Canada’s struggling uranium mines. Accessed on March 14, 2019

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 14, 2019

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on March 14, 2019

The World Factbook, Field Listing: Exports – Commodities, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on March 14, 2019

U.S. Energy Information Administration, Nuclear Explained: Where Our Uranium Comes From, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on March 14, 2019

Wikipedia, Uranium. Accessed on March 14, 2019

Wikipedia, Category:Uranium mining companies by country. Accessed on March 14, 2019