September 22, 2020

Trump Says U.S. Will Impose Metal Tariffs on Brazil and Argentina

If they are imposed, the tariffs stand to do considerable damage to South America’s two biggest economies as Argentina is in recession and Brazil confronts high unemployment and anemic growth.

Mr. Sica, of Argentina, scoffed at the claim that Brazil and Argentina have been deliberately devaluing their currencies.

“Our currency has a flexible exchange rate and adapts itself to global changes,” he said.

Brad Setser, a senior fellow for international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations, said neither Brazil nor Argentina was manipulating its currency. In fact, both countries had been selling foreign exchange reserves to prop the value of their currencies up. He added that Argentina was in a “full blown” economic crisis and was close to running out of such foreign exchange.

The announcement on Monday was the latest escalation in Mr. Trump’s global trade war. Mr. Trump has also threatened new tariffs on products from China, Mexico, the European Union, Vietnam and elsewhere.

With next year’s election approaching, the Trump administration has appeared to be working toward a resolution on several of these fronts. It reached an agreement to lift metal tariffs on Canada and Mexico and declined to impose devastating car tariffs on the European Union. It has been trying to seal a first-phase trade deal with China, though the two sides are continuing to grapple over terms. And the administration has been pushing for Congress to approve its revision of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which would check off a major campaign promise for Mr. Trump.

But the tariffs on Brazil and Argentina suggest that Mr. Trump has not abandoned his confrontational approach.

On Monday, he said on Twitter that American stock markets “are up as much as 21%” since he announced the metal tariffs on March 1, 2018, and that the United States was taking in “massive amounts of money” in tariff revenue.

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