March 1, 2018 / 10:36 PM / in 4 months

Brazil threatens 'action' to protect interests after Trump tariff move

SAO PAULO/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Brazil’s Industry Ministry on Thursday expressed “enormous concern” about the proposed U.S. tariffs and underscored that Brazil may take “multilateral or bilateral” action to protect its interests.

The ministry said its steel industry was not a threat to the United States, noting that 80 percent of its steel exports are semi-finished products that serve as an important input for the American steel industry. The statement also noted that Brazil is the biggest importer of metallurgical coal from the United States.

Earlier on Thursday, U.S. President Donald Trump said he would impose hefty tariffs on imported steel and aluminum to protect U.S. producers, risking retaliation from major trade partners like China and Europe and helping trigger a large selloff on Wall Street.

Brazil is the second-largest source of steel imports into the United States after Canada, accounting for 13 percent of volume in 2017, according to U.S. Commerce Department figures.

Two of Brazil’s largest steelmakers, Cia Siderurgica Nacional and Usiminas sold off on the tariff news, closing down 4.4 percent and 4.2 percent, respectively.

Reporting by Brad Brooks and Christian Plumb; Editing by Matthew Lewis

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