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Incoming Mexican government could impose tariffs on US steel, aluminum: Canacero official

Sao Paulo — Mexico's next government is willing to impose its own tariffs on US steel and aluminum if the US continues its own on Mexican imports of the metals, according to a senior official with Mexican steel trade group Canacero.

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"They already agreed, this government and the incoming one, that we will apply resounding mirror measures," Canacero Vice President Raul Gutierrez said Monday at the Institute for Industrial Development and Economic Growth (IDIC). Gutierrez made his remarks, as reported Tuesday by Canacero, at a news conference.

Related story: US senators seek formal review of Section 232 tariff exclusion process

Related story: Industry urges US to ax 232 duties on steel, aluminum with USMCA signing this week

According to Gutierrez, the left-wing government of Andres Manual Lopez Obrador, which starts December 1, has pledged to impose mirror measures on US steel and aluminum if the Trump administration does not eliminate its Section 232 tariffs or if it imposes an unacceptable export quota on the Mexican steel and aluminum industries.

To Gutierrez, also the CEO of Mexican steel producer Deacero, there are only two possibilities to avoid a mirror measure by Mexico: the complete elimination of all tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Mexico into the US or a quota that would surpass 100% of current import levels.

From January to September, Mexico exported 2.61 million mt of steel products to the US, up 7.4% from the year-ago period. In 2017, Mexico exported 3.15 million mt of steel products to the US, according to the US Commerce Department and US International Trade Commission data.

On Friday, Mexico, the US and Canada are expected to sign the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), but steel and aluminum tariffs are not part of the agreement.

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

-- Edited by Richard Rubin, newsdesk@spglobal.com

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