President Trump on Dec. 2 said he will seek to reimpose U.S. import tariffs on steel and aluminum from Brazil and Argentina.
“Brazil and Argentina have been presiding over a massive devaluation of their currencies, which is not good for our farmers,” he said in a tweet. “Therefore, effective immediately, I will restore the Tariffs on all Steel & Aluminum that is shipped into the U.S. from those countries.”
He also said the Federal Reserve should “act so that countries, of which there are many, no longer take advantage of our strong dollar by further devaluing their currencies. This makes it very hard for our [manufacturers] & farmers to fairly export their goods.”
In February 2018, the U.S. Commerce Department’s so-called Section 232 investigations found that steel and aluminum imports threatened U.S. national security and recommended the application of tariffs of 25% for steel and 10% for aluminum.
In March 2018, however, Brazil and Argentina, which both export steel and aluminum to the U.S., were granted exemptions from the U.S. tariffs.
The 1988 Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act and 2015 Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 call for the U.S. treasury secretary to monitor the macroeconomic and currency policies of major trading partners on a semiannual basis. However, the most recent report, published in May, does not indicate that Brazil or Argentina are manipulating their currencies.
In mid-November, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue praised Brazil for implementing an annual duty-free tariff rate quota (TRQ) of 750,000 metric tons for wheat imports.
“Brazil’s implementation of this TRQ fulfills a commitment made to President Trump by President Bolsonaro earlier this year and reflects a desire to deepen trade and economic ties between both countries,” the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said in a statement.
Neither the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative nor the Commerce Department have yet publicly responded to the president’s tweet to reimpose tariffs on Brazilian and Argentine steel and aluminum imports.