USA re-imposes steel, aluminum tariffs on Brazil, Argentina

Metal smelting furnace in Chinese steel mills

The proposal threatens to intensify simmering transatlantic trade friction, coming with Mr Trump already accusing European carmakers of enjoying government protection from American competition.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Monday made a plea to his American counterpart Donald Trump to be more understanding after the latter said he will reinstate tariffs on steel and aluminium from Brazil and Argentina.

Both Brazil and Argentina have been trying to strengthen their currencies, despite Trump's claim.

Argentine Production Minister Dante Sica said Trump's announcement was "unexpected", and he was seeking talks with US counterparts.

While the steel tariffs could crimp trade, the Latin American countries gain much more shipping crops to Chinese buyers.

The import volume from Brazil increased by about 50 percent in the first six months of this year compared to the same period last year.

The Reserve Bank board will meet today but most economists are not expecting an interest rate cut at 2:30pm (AEDT).

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro said he would talk to his economy minister before reacting to Trump's comments on the Brazilian real and the imposition of steel tariffs. "I'm going to call him so that he doesn't penalize us ... and I'm nearly certain he'll listen to us".

Both South American nations were among a group of US allies that Trump had exempted from steel and aluminum tariffs in March 2018.

A source familiar with Brasilia's reaction rejected the US claim of currency manipulation, noting the central bank was working to lift the real.

Trump has long grumbled about the dollar's strength and urged the Fed to abandon decades of precedent and act to weaken the greenback. The U.S. government's dollar policy has traditionally been directed by the Treasury Department. That has prompted fears that the US could lead the world into an era of weaponized monetary policy. -China trade war, represent a key demographic for Trump ahead of the November 2020 election. As such, it signifies a potential new phase in his trade wars in which foreign-exchange markets are the battleground.

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He suggested the countries' weak currencies and cheap exports were harming USA farmers.

The US imported almost 169,000 tons of steel from Argentina previous year, representing more than $220 million in trade.

The Brazilian real was little changed at 4.24 per dollar at 7:30 NY.

After a brief spike in steel prices, USA steel producers have struggled since the Trump administration put tariffs into place past year.

Shares of USA steelmakers rose on Monday, with United States Steel Corp X.N up 4.0% at $13.65 in afternoon trading and AK Steel Holding AKS.N rising 5.8% to $2.92. U.S. Steel Corp. was up 0.7 per cent, and Steel Dynamics Inc. was also indicated higher. Shares of Usinas Siderurgicas de Minas Gerais SA rose 0.5% in Brazil.

Exports to the Usuminas, as the Belo Horizonte-based steelmaker is known, aren't significant enough to have an impact on the company's financial results, Pedro Galdi, an analyst at Mirae Asset Wealth Management said by phone.

Mr Trump's action against Brazil and Argentina took officials in both countries by surprise.

"The decision to tax Brazilian steel as a way of "compensating" the American farmer is a retaliation against Brazil", it said.

In an early-morning tweet, Trump said the tariffs, "effective immediately", were necessary because "Brazil and Argentina have been presiding over a massive devaluation of their currencies. which is not good for our farmers".

As for the new proposed tariffs on French goods, USA trade representative Robert Lighthizer said the administration might investigate digital service taxes in Austria, Italy, and Turkey, too.

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