By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Brazilian government responded on Wednesday to the U.S.’s decision to halt negotiations and apply the import restrictions on Brazilian steel and aluminum, which had been temporarily suspended. Brazilian steelmakers say the new measures could decrease exports of some products by as much as sixty percent.
“Brazilian products do not pose a threat to U.S. national security,” said the joint press release issued by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and the Foreign Relations Ministry. “On the contrary, the industries of both countries are integrated and complement each other.”
Despite statements by the Trump Administration that exemption agreements for Brazilian steel had been set, Brazilian officials say the U.S. halted negotiations last week, giving the South American country the option of tariffs or quotas on steel exports. While the country’s aluminum industry opted for the increased tariffs, the steel industry chose the quotas.
“The Brazilian government regrets that the negotiating process has been interrupted and reiterates that it remains open to building reasonable solutions for both parties. Furthermore, it reiterates its conviction that any restrictive measures would not be necessary and would not be justified under any circumstances,” said the release.
According to officials, Brazilian companies have been making large investments in the U.S. and are responsible for a large part of production and jobs in the U.S. steel industry.
For Instituto Aço Brasil (Brazilian Steel Institute), association of Brazil’s major steelmakers, the retraction of finished product exports may be as high as to sixty percent, while the decline in the export of semi-finished products should hover around 7.4 percent.
The entity’s President, Marco Polo de Mello Lopes, in a teleconference with reporters, however, stated that the ‘take it or leave it’ ultimatum by the U.S. is expected to be accepted by steelmakers, since the North American country is responsible for one third of Brazilian steel exports.