ArcelorMittal and other steel firms said Thursday they have laid off 10,000 workers in Mexico and warned that thousands more are at risk if the government fails to curb "unfair imports."
The global steel giant and Mexican firms DeAcero, Altos Hornos de Mexico and Tubacero took out a full-page newspaper advertisement urging President Enrique Pena Nieto to impose temporary tariffs on countries with no trade deals with Mexico.
The companies also asked for new foreign trade measures to make sure the industry is protected.
"The gravity and velocity of the crisis affecting Mexican steel companies require the adoption of short-term actions that halt the current damage and protect the source of employment," the ad says.
The companies said they have already shed 10,000 direct and 40,000 indirect jobs, and that they would have to lay off another 7,000 workers if no action is taken.
On Tuesday, thousands of people protested in the steel town of Monclova, in the northern state of Coahuila, over the layoffs by Altos Hornos de Mexico.
The economy ministry issued a statement this week saying it was analyzing with the industry association, Canacero, the "problem derived from the reduction in world demand, the overcapacity in the market, the drop in oil prices, the devaluation of the (Russian) ruble, and other (issues)."
"We have placed particular attention on the risks represented by imports of Chinese products," the statement said, noting that 15 of 31 existing quotas are for steel from China.