Trade Cases

Trump Tweet Calls for Tariffs on Steel from Brazil, Argentina

Written by Tim Triplett

President Trump stunned the market with an early-morning tweet Monday calling for new Section 232 tariffs on steel imports from Brazil and Argentina, which he accused of currency manipulation. No word yet on whether the White House will make the tariffs official, or even if they would be legal. But the prospect of higher priced imports is particularly onerous to re-rolling mills in the U.S. that are dependent on foreign slabs.

The president tweeted:

“Donald J. Trump  @realDonaldTrump  5:59 AM – Dec 2, 2019

Brazil and Argentina have been presiding over a massive devaluation of their currencies, which is not good for our farmers. Therefore, effective immediately, I will restore the Tariffs on all Steel & Aluminum that is shipped into the U.S. from those countries. The Federal Reserve should likewise 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 manufactures & farmers to fairly export their goods. Lower Rates & Loosen – Fed!”

Currently, steel imports from the two countries are limited by quarterly quotas. The president’s action would subject imports from Brazil and Argentina to 25 percent tariffs. What would happen to the quotas remains unclear.

Steelmakers contacted by Steel Market Update declined to comment on how their companies would be impacted by tariffs on Brazilian slab, as the situation is still developing. Among the mills that could be affected are California Steel Industries, JSW Texas, NLMK USA, EVRAZ and AMNS Calvert.

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