MEXICO CITY, (Reuters) – Mexico will renew for six months a 15 percent steel tariff on countries with which it does not currently have free trade agreements, a senior government official said on Monday. The tariff was established in 2015 as a means to protect Mexico’s domestic steel producers against growing Asian imports. Since then, the protectionist measure had been re-authorized every six months. The tariff expired in January, prompting speculation that Mexico’s new government might not re-authorize it. Ernesto Acevedo, the economy ministry’s deputy minister for industry and trade, said the tariff will apply to the same 186 products that have previously been renewed. Last year, the U.S. government imposed tariffs on foreign exporters of steel and aluminum, including Mexico, citing national security concerns. The tariffs were widely denounced as unfair by Mexican officials. The U.S. steel tariff was set at 25 percent, while a separate aluminum tariff was set at 15 percent. Acevedo said the Mexican government will continue to insist that the United States exclude Mexican firms from the metals tariffs, which took effect last June. He added the government will also set between a 25 and 30 percent tariff on textiles and shoes from countries that do not have free trade deals with Mexico, a measure that also lapsed in January.