- The Washington Times - Monday, December 2, 2019

President Trump said Monday he will slap tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Argentina and Brazil, accusing those countries of hurting U.S. farmers through currency manipulation.

“Brazil and Argentina have been presiding over a massive devaluation of their currencies … which is not good for our farmers,” the president tweeted hours before departing for a NATO conference in London. “Therefore, effective immediately, I will restore the Tariffs on all Steel & Aluminum that is shipped into the U.S. from those countries.”

The president had exempted both South American nations from steel and aluminum tariffs in March 2018. Brazil has been stepping up as a major supplier of soybeans to China as Beijing cut back on its U.S. farm purchases in retaliation for the tariffs.

Argentina is stuck in an economic crisis with soaring inflation, major debt, widespread poverty and a currency that has plunged since President Mauricio Macri came to power in 2015.

Brazil, South America’s largest economy, has double-digit unemployment, and its economy is headed toward its third straight year of roughly 1% growth, following two years of recession.

Mr. Trump pushed back at critics who warned more than a year ago that tariffs on China would harm the U.S. economy.

“U.S. Markets are up as much as 21% since the announcement of Tariffs on 3/1/2018 - and the U.S. is taking in massive amounts of money (and giving some to our farmers, who have been targeted by China)!” he tweeted.

He is also is calling on the Federal Reserve to act to prevent other countries from devaluing their currencies. Mr. Trump tweeted that the Fed should “Lower Rates & Loosen.”

A trade specialist for the Competitive Enterprise Institute said new tariffs won’t help U.S. farmers or manufacturers.

“Trump should instead remove the tariffs that sparked the trade war and shrank farmers’ export markets in the first place,” said CEI senior fellow Ryan Young. “Today’s new tariffs will have little effect on agriculture but will harm other industries and consumers. More than three-quarters of steel goes to construction and automobiles, for example.”

The Trump administration is proposing tariffs on up to $2.4 billion worth of French imports — from Roquefort cheese to handbags — in retaliation for France’s tax on American tech giants like Google, Amazon and Facebook.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration said Monday evening it could impose tariffs of up to 100% on $2.4 billion of French goods in retaliation for the country’s new digital services tax.

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said the tax discriminates against U.S. companies. The French tax is designed to prevent tech companies from dodging taxes by putting headquarters in low-tax European countries. It would impose a 3% annual levy on French revenues of digital companies with yearly global sales worth more than $830 million.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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