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Protesters disrupt shipments in Brazil's largest port: union

SAO PAULO/RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazilian truck drivers began protesting early on Monday at Latin America’s largest port in Santos, affecting the unloading of shipments and arrival of trucks at the port, the union representing some of the protesters said.

The protesters are demanding a reduction of value-added taxes on gasoline and diesel, the port’s management said.

A press representative for the port said it could not confirm the information provided by the union. But the port did say that the protest had affected some unloading activities.

Marcelo Aparecido, a union representative, said hundreds of trucks failed to enter the port as normally scheduled.

The protest comes before President Jair Bolsonaro's government sends to Congress a bill aiming to overhaul the value-added tax, a state charge known as ICMS, as recent price cuts at oil refineries by state-run oil firm Petrobras PETR4.SA had not been reflected at the pumps.

ICMS is a tax on sales and services and applies to the movement of goods, transportation, communication services and other supplies.

The price of diesel is a sensitive issue for truck drivers, whose national strike in 2018 had a huge impact on Brazil’s economy. Bolsonaro had the support of truck drivers’ leaders in the 2018 presidential election.

Santos is the No. 1 export port for Brazilian soy, corn and sugar, among other products.

Reporting by Roberto Samora in Sao Paulo and Rodrigo Viga Gaier in Rio de Janeiro; Writing by Gabriela Mello; Editing by Matthew Lewis

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