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Trump: U.S. will impose metal tariffs on Brazil and Argentina

SFGate Monday, 2 December 2019
WASHINGTON — President Trump said Monday that he would impose tariffs on steel and aluminum from Brazil and Argentina, a move that would shatter previous agreements with those countries and widen a global trade war that the president had appeared ready to scale back.

In a tweet, Trump accused Brazil and Argentina of manipulating their currencies and hurting American farmers. “Therefore, effective immediately, I will restore the Tariffs on all Steel & Aluminum that is shipped into the U.S. from those countries.”

The Trump administration cannot restore tariffs because it never imposed them on Brazilian and Argentine metals, though it did force them to limit shipments to the United States under a quota system last year. The United States exempted Brazil, Argentina and other countries from the president’s sweeping metal tariffs in March 2018, with the United States saying it would continue negotiations with those countries to improve their trade terms. In May 2018, the United States announced that it had reached an agreement with the countries that would cap their metal shipments at a specific volume each year.

But the president’s move suggested that neither previous agreements nor political alliances could protect a country from sudden trade confrontations with the United States. Economic struggles — such as those confronting Brazil and Argentina — also appeared to be no defense. Trump’s announcement was particularly jarring to Brazil’s conservative populist president, Jair Bolsonaro, who had gone to great lengths to strengthen ties with the Trump administration, with little to show for it.

“Aluminum?” Bolsonaro asked when reporters presented him with Trump’s tweet. “If that’s the case, I’ll call Trump. I have an open channel with him.”

Dante Sica, Argentina’s minister of...
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