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Mexico asks US for Section 232 steel, aluminum tariffs exemption

Sao Paulo — Mexico's government asked the US for an exemption from the latter's Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs, it said Monday.

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Mexican Secretary of the Economy Graciela Marquez Colin sought the exemption from US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross during Friday's US-Mexico CEO Dialogue in Yucatan, Mexico.

Marquez reiterated the need for the US to eliminate the application of the tariff measures on steel and aluminum under the Section 232 measures, according to the Secretariat of the Economy. He said Mexico was not a threat to the national security of the US, so the measure must be withdrawn, it added.

No response was officially given by Ross, according to the ministry.

The US Department of Commerce did not respond to a request for comment Monday.

In the middle of March, Mexico's Senate asked the country's economy secretariat to negotiate an exemption from the steel and aluminum tariffs. The Senate told the ministry that Mexico should demand the end of the tariffs before the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) is signed. The deal still needs to be approved by the US Congress before it can be ratified.

Currently, Mexico faces a 25% tariff on exports of steel to the US and a 10% duty on aluminum shipments.

Mexico received a temporary exemption from the tariffs when they took effect March 23, 2018, but the US imposed the trade measures on Mexico, Canada and the EU from June 1.

Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 provides the ability to impose duties on imports should they threaten national security.

-- Guilherme Baida, guilherme.baida@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Keiron Greenhalgh, newsdesk@spglobal.com