Trump restarts tariffs disputes with Brazil and Argentina
South American leaders said the latest Trump tweet caught them totally off-guard.
By Zoe Reineck | Feb 11, 2020 | Print-friendly

Argentine and Brazilian officials responded with alarm Monday to a tweet by President Trump declaring a re-imposition of imports of steel and aluminum from both countries. The officials all said that they would contact their U.S. counterparts quickly to seek an explanation.

Trump tweeted earlier in the day: "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."

Trump's tweet also demanded that the Federal Reserve lower interest rates further so that other countries "no longer take advantage of our strong dollar. Lower Rates & Loosen - Fed!"

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, a Trump ally who has been seeking closer ties with the United States, said in a radio interview that he will call Trump to urge him not to "penalize" Brazil. Bolsonaro said that the Brazilian economy relies heavily on commodities and would be hit hard if the tariffs resumed. He added that he is "alsmost certain" that Trump would listen to him on the issue.

Argentine Production Minister Dante Sica said that Trump's announcement was "unexpected" and that he was seeking talks with U.S. officials. Argentina's Foreign Ministry issued a statement that it will begin negotiations with the U.S. State Department.

The White House has not issued any details of Trump's plans for restoring the tariffs.

Pre-market shares in U.S. steelmakers rose Monday, with United States Steel Corp gaining 1.2% and AK Steel Holding going up 2.5% before the bell. Steelmakers in Brazil sharply lost value early in the day but subsequently reversed their losses.