Donald Trump’s top economic adviser said Tuesday the administration hasn’t made a decision about re-imposing steel tariffs on Brazil and Argentina, even though the US president said last week the duties were “effective immediately.”
The director of the White House’s National Economic Council, Larry Kudlow, said at the Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council in Washington that reinstating tariffs has been discussed but there’s no decision yet.
Trump said December 2 that the US would restore the duties to punish the two Latin American countries for “a massive devaluation of their currencies” that he said had hurt US farmers.
His action amounts to retaliation against two nations that have become alternative suppliers of soybeans and other agricultural products to China, grabbing market share away from the US Rural voters, including farmers, are a key constituency for Trump as he heads into the 2020 presidential elections.
While the steel tariffs could crimp trade, the Latin American countries gain much more shipping crops to Chinese buyers. In the first 10 months of the year, Brazil has shipped US$25.5 billion in farm products including soybeans and pork to China. That’s more than 10 times the value of steel and iron products sold to the United States.