WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump announced plans Monday to resurrect tariffs on all steel and aluminum imports from Brazil and Argentina, stunning political and industry leaders in those countries and extending the White House’s adversarial trade tactics to new fronts.
Trump took aim at both nations on Twitter, saying that the devaluation of their currencies was hurting American farmers. He then directed his attention to the Federal Reserve, which he has frequently slammed for not cutting rates.
“Brazil and Argentina have been presiding over a massive devaluation of their currencies, which is not good for our farmers,” Trump said in an early morning tweet. He added that the U.S.’s central bank should “act so that countries, of which there are many, no longer take advantage of our strong dollar by further devaluing their currencies. This makes it very hard for our (manufacturers) & farmers to fairly export their goods. Lower Rates & Loosen - Fed!”
The surprise announcement came after it appeared as though the White House was preparing to dial back its aggressive trade approach in the lead-up to next year’s election. The administration appeared close to a deal with House Democrats to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement, and tensions with China had eased in recent weeks.
Trump’s tweets were not accompanied by any statement from the Commerce Department or the U.S. trade representative announcing the change more formally.
The details of the tariffs and what triggered them were not clear Monday.