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Importers say Brazilian crackdown on Asian steel is illegal - 16 March 2012

News the Brazilian government may introduce stricter port inspections and tougher regulations on Asian steel imports has triggered concern among importers who claim the move would be illegal under international trade laws.

"The standards set by Inmetro (the national institute of metrology, quality and technology) do not consider international norms, so we see them as a protectionist measure," says one importer, adding that the norms are unreasonable because in some cases, "even Brazilian mills can't meet them."

Another importer points out that such inspections would cause delays on orders of up to 45 days, which would lengthen delivery times and raise costs leading to higher final prices. "With upper values for imported products local producers will also have the chance to hike prices domestically," he notes.

A group of steel importers are preparing to send a report to foreign trade authorities. "We agree with the port inspections, but this must be done in accordance with legislation and without hurting free market competition," says one group member.

According to Inmetro, the institute only wants to prevent products that do not meet technical rules and could endanger local quality standards if they were used in infrastructure projects or vehicles.

As previously reported, imports from Asia will not be approved for domestic sale unless they meet high standards set by Inmetro. "If a product fails either test it will not be allowed to enter Brazil," stated a foreign trade agency spokesperson.

A start date for the inspections has not yet been decided.


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