Trump restores metal tariffs on Brazil and Argentina in surprise move

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters at the White House before departing to Fayetteville, North Carolina in Washington, U.S. September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Erin ScottTrump heads to FayettevilleReuters

  • President Donald Trump announced early Monday the US would restore punitive tariffs on steel and aluminum from Brazil and Argentina.
  • He accused the South American nations of unfairly wielding their currencies against the US.
  • The surprise move threatened to open a new front in a global trade dispute that has slowed growth in some of the largest economies.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump announced early Monday the US would restore punitive tariffs on steel and aluminum from Brazil and Argentina, saying the South American nations had unfairly wielded their currencies against the US.

"Brazil and Argentina have been presiding over a massive devaluation of their currencies. which is not good for our farmers," the president wrote on Twitter. "Therefore, effective immediately, I will restore the Tariffs on all Steel & Aluminum that is shipped into the U.S. from those countries."

Trump did not specify at what rate metal imported from the US allies would be taxed at. The White House and the Office of the US Trade Representative did not immediately release any details on the policy.

The surprise move threatened to open a new front in a global trade dispute that has slowed growth in some of the largest economies. The Trump administration has separately attempted in recent weeks to strike an interim trade agreement with China ahead of the 2020 elections.

Brazil and Argentina had initially been exempt from the broad steel and aluminum tariffs that Trump imposed in March 2018. Both economies have struggled with double-digit unemployment rates in recent years. A currency crisis in Argentina has pushed the inflation rate above 30%.

Trump has cited a range of issues in his tariff disputes, from national security to economic aggressions. On Monday, he said the Federal Reserve should slash interest rates to compete with alleged currency manipulation abroad.

"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," Trump continued. "This makes it very hard for our manufactures & farmers to fairly export their goods. Lower Rates & Loosen - Fed!"

The central bank has lowered interest rates three times this year in an effort to insulate the economy from risks, including trade tensions. With a historically-low unemployment rate and strong consumer spending, however, policymakers have signaled they would pause those efforts for now.

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.
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