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Argentina welcomes US decision not to impose steel tariffs

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The United States is the main destination for Argentine steel and aluminum exports. ALI BURAFI/AFP

Argentina welcomes US decision not to impose steel tariffs

Argentina has welcomed the US decision not to impose tariffs on the South American country’s steel and aluminum which US President Donald Trump had threatened last month.

“We have just been left out, in a good way, of an internal communication from the [US] presidency regarding this issue.

“The list of countries that will be sanctioned has come out and Argentina is not on it,” Foreign Minister Felipe Sola said in an interview on Sunday with Radio 10.

“We have seen the decision with satisfaction. We are happy,” President Alberto Fernandez said later in an interview with C5N television.

On December 2, a week before Fernandez took office, Trump announced via a series of tweets that he would reinstate tariffs on steel and aluminum imported from Brazil and Argentina, accusing them of manipulating their currencies and hurting US farmers.

“Brazil and Argentina have been presiding over a massive devaluation of their currencies,” which was hurting American farmers, Trump said.

“Effective immediately, I will restore the Tariffs on all Steel & Aluminum that is shipped into the US from those countries.”

In 2018 Trump had announced global tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminum but later approved exemptions for some countries, including Argentina and Brazil which agreed to quotas.

On Friday Trump signed a proclamation to increase tariffs on aluminum imports by an additional 10 per cent and those on steel by an extra 25 per cent, to take effect from February 8.

Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico and South Korea were exempt from the additional taxes on derivative steel products while Argentina, Australia, Canada and Mexico were also exempt from the aluminum tariffs.

Reversal of the threatened tariffs was “excellent news for Argentina,” said Sola, while imposition of the taxes would have “meant a huge loss of jobs”.

The US is the main destination for Argentine steel and aluminum exports, representing a market of $700 million, according to official figures.

Argentina and Brazil have benefited from the US trade war with China, as they have stepped in to replace American exports of soybeans and other agricultural goods to the Asian giant.

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