US President Donald Trump and President Mauricio Macri in Washington in April 2017.

President Mauricio Macri has spoken to US President Donald Trump to seek an exemption on tariffs on Argentine steel and aluminum exports to the United States.

Speaking today to express his concerns about the impact of steel and aluminum tariffs on Argentine exports to the United States, Macri also asked to be included with the other exemptions – Mexico and Canada – that Trump has announced thus far. The Casa Rosada said that Trump had committed to consider the request, but a White House readout of the same call did not make reference any commitments.

The White House noted that “President Donald J. Trump spoke today with President Mauricio Macri of Argentina to discuss the strong partnership between the two countries. President Trump underscored the need for countries in the region to work together to bring democracy back to the great people of Venezuela, and the two leaders discussed potential United States tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum.  They agreed to stay in touch to strengthen the robust bilateral relationship.”

US President Donald Trump after signing a proclamation to establish tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 8, 2018. (Photo via Reuters / Leah Millis)
US President Donald Trump after signing a proclamation to establish tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 8, 2018. (Photo via Reuters / Leah Millis)

 

Yesterday, Trump signed an order to place tariffs on imported steel and aluminum at 25 and 10 percent respectively. Initially Trump indicated a pass on fellow NAFTA-members Canada and Mexico, and also signaled other allied countries, like Australia, could be excluded down the road.

US Trade Representative data shows that Argentina brought in US $332 million in aluminum sales to the US in 2016, denoting one of the top categories for the country. In total, Argentine aluminum represents 4 percent of the total US imports of the metal.

The Foreign Ministry has argued that “Argentine exports amount to only 0.6 percent of steel and 2.4 percent of aluminum imports to the US and therefore Argentina is not a cause nor a contributor to the distortions that affect world markets and the United States.” Members of the Macri administration are understood to have been lobbying the US government in anticipation of the tariff announcement, and today’s phone call between the two presidents is part of that effort.

According to La Nación, half of Techint’s exports are steel tubes for the US oil sector and the tariffs would cause major problems for the company.

Just so happens that yesterday Cabinet Chief Marcos Peña met with Techint CEO Paulo Rocca and toured the company’s steel tubing factory.

Cabinet Chief Marcos Peña (center) toured Techint's steel tubing factory with Teching CEO Paulo Rocca (left) yesterday. (Photo via Casa Rosada)
Cabinet Chief Marcos Peña (center) toured Techint’s steel tubing factory with Teching CEO Paulo Rocca (left) yesterday. (Photo via Casa Rosada)