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There are existing temporary tariffs of 3% on the import of some steel products, but Mexican mills want higher levels, “especially [for] semi-finished products such as slab and billet”, the company noted.

Members of the customs commission of the Mexican steel association, Canacero, said this week that steel imports increased by 40% last year in comparison with 2011, which puts the whole Mexican steel industry at risk.

“Imports of semi-finished steel products increased by 450% [in 2012], which threatens jobs, the national productive chain and the economic benefit from the steel industry in Mexico,” members of the commission said during a visit to ArcelorMittal Lázaro Cárdenas, in the state of Michoacán, the company reported.

Imports are mainly from countries outside the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) area – Brazil, Ukraine, Russia and China.

The Canacero customs commission includes Altos Hornos de México (Ahmsa), Minera Autlán, Ternium, ThyssenKrupp and ArcelorMittal.