Argentina will initially be exempted from the steel and aluminum tariffs the Trump administration is set to implement shortly. According to the New York Times, the decision was announced today by the United States Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer, at a meeting of the Senate Finance Committee. The European Union, Australia, Brazil, and South Korea are currently also in the same position as Argentina, while Mexico and Canada have already been exempted of these tariffs.
The current administration has been lobbying hard to get this concession. Immediately after the original announcement, President Mauricio Macri had called Trump to express his concerns about the impact of steel and aluminum tariffs on Argentine exports to the United States. Moreover, Trade Secretary Miguel Braun traveled to Washington last week and met with his American counterpart, Wilbur Ross, with the same goal.
The efforts continued during the G20 meeting of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors that took place in Argentina this week, with a bilateral meeting between Treasury Minister Nicolás Dujovne and US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin. On top of this, Production and Foreign Ministers Francisco Cabrera and Jorge Faurie sent a letter to Lighthizer yesterday night formally requesting Argentina to be exempted.
Today, at least temporarily, the government achieved that goal. Now, it will seek for the exemption to be definitive.
The data provided by the Office of the US Trade Representative 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 US imports of this 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.”