The United States government announced yesterday that it has reached an agreement “in principle” with Argentina regarding the country’s request to be exempted from the tariffs on aluminum and steel that the Trump administration will be implementing shortly. The press release, issued by the White House a day before the expiration of the temporary exemption granted on March 23, goes on to indicate that the details of the negotiations will be finalized shortly.
The governments of Australia and Brazil are in the same position as Argentina, while the negotiations with Canada, Mexico, and the European Union will continue for “a final 30 days” as in these cases the administration is focused on quotas that will restrain imports, prevent transshipment, and protect the national security.” South Korea, on its end, is the only one with which the Trump administration has reached a final agreement.
Even though the details of the agreement have not been disclosed, media say the most important aspect of it lies on the amount of both steel and aluminum that will not have tariffs imposed on. According to Infobae, Argentina “wanted to use as a point of reference the amount exported last year – the best one to date – while the US wanted to do an average of the last three.” “The latter allegedly prevailed,” the news site added. South Korea, for example, will be exempted from paying tariffs on 70 percent of the amount exported in average in the past three years.
The Trump administration is set to impose tariffs of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum to the rest of the countries. If the exempted countries want to export more than the amount agreed on with the US, the excess will be subjected to tariffs.
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. Argentine aluminum represents 4 percent of the total US imports of the metal.
When lobbying to get the concession, the Macri administration 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.”