US re-imposes metal tariffs on Brazil, Argentina

US President Donald Trump speaks during a "Keep America Great" campaign rally at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida. - The US will impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Brazil and Argentina, President Donald Trump said in a tweet on December 2, 2019. "Brazil and Argentina have been presiding over a massive devaluation of their currencies," he posted, adding this was hurting American farmers. AFP

President Donald Trump struck back Monday at what he called unfair policies by Brazil and Argentina, saying he is reinstating tariffs on steel and aluminum on those countries.

"Brazil and Argentina have been presiding over a massive devaluation of their currencies," which is hurting American farmers he said on Twitter.

"Effective immediately, I will restore the Tariffs on all Steel & Aluminum that is shipped into the US from those countries."

Trump last year announced global tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum but later approved exemptions for some countries, including Argentina and Brazil which agreed to quotas.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who considers himself an ideological ally of Trump, said he would not hesitate to open a direct line to the White House to resolve the issue.

"I am going to talk to (Economy Minister) Paulo Guedes," Bolsonaro told reporters in Brasilia, adding that if needed "I have an open channel with" Trump.

In his tweets, Trump also called on the Federal Reserve to "likewise act" so other nations no longer "take advantage of our strong dollar by further devaluing their currencies."

Amid a slowing global economy and the impact of Trump's wide-ranging trade offensive, mostly directed against China, the Fed has cut the benchmark interest rates three times this year.

But it has signaled it will stand back before deciding on any further moves.

Despite widespread complaints about the impact of the tariffs on US businesses and consumers, as well as the hit to farmers who have been the target of retaliation from trading partners, Trump continued to claim in his tweet on Monday that Washington has taken in "massive amounts of money" from the tariffs.

Brazil and Argentina have benefitted from the US trade war with China since they have stepped in to replace American exports of soybeans and other agricultural goods.

Trump also claimed that since imposing tariffs at the start of March 2018, US markets were "up as much as 21%." In fact, the benchmark stock index is up 14 percent.

American steel has continued to suffer from overall employment edging downward and production halted at blast furnaces last month.

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