Trump to restore tariffs on Brazil, Argentina

US President Donald Trump. (Reuters)
Updated 02 December 2019

Trump to restore tariffs on Brazil, Argentina

  • Emerging market stocks and the highly sensitive Mexican peso slid to session lows following President Donald Trump’s vow

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump on Monday said he would immediately restore tariffs on US steel and aluminum imports from Brazil and Argentina, prompting at least one counterpart to vow talks with the Republican president.

Emerging market stocks and the highly sensitive Mexican peso slid to session lows following Trump’s vow, which came in an early morning post on Twitter that gave no other details on the planned trade action.

“Brazil and Argentina have been presiding over a massive devaluation of their currencies, which is not good for our farmers. Therefore, effective immediately, I will restore the Tariffs on all Steel & Aluminum that is shipped into the US from those countries,” Trump wrote.

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, an avowed Trump fan who has actively sought closer US ties, said he could speak directly with the American leader and that he would also discuss Trump’s declaration with Brazil’s economy minister.

Trump on Monday also urged the Federal Reserve to prevent countries from gaining an economic advantage by devaluing their currencies.

“The Federal Reserve should likewise act so that countries, of which there are many, no longer take advantage of our strong dollar,” Trump tweeted. “Lower Rates & Loosen — Fed!”

Trump has repeatedly urged the US central bank to lower rates to below zero, arguing that negative rates in Europe and elsewhere give those countries a competitive advantage.

However, Fed policymakers have been reluctant to take the unorthodox policy steps tried by other global central banks. The US central bank’s policymaking committee holds its next meeting on Dec 10-11.


Mexico objects to labor enforcement provision in North American trade deal

Updated 15 December 2019

Mexico objects to labor enforcement provision in North American trade deal

  • Mexico produced more stringent rules on labor rights aimed at reducing Mexico’s low-wage advantage
  • US House of Representatives proposes the designation of up to five US experts who would monitor compliance with local labor reform in Mexico

MEXICO CITY: Mexico’s deputy foreign minister, Jesus Seade, said on Saturday he sent a letter to the top US trade official expressing surprise and concern over a labor enforcement provision proposed by a US congressional committee in the new North American trade deal.
Top officials from Canada, Mexico and the United States on Tuesday signed a fresh overhaul of a quarter-century-old deal, aiming to improve enforcement of worker rights and hold down prices for biologic drugs by eliminating a patent provision.
How labor disputes are handled in the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) trade deal was one of the last sticking points in the negotiations between the three countries to overhaul the agreement.
Intense negotiations over the past week among US Democrats, the administration of Republican US President Donald Trump, and Mexico produced more stringent rules on labor rights aimed at reducing Mexico’s low-wage advantage.
However, an annex for the implementation of the treaty that was presented on Friday in the US House of Representatives proposes the designation of up to five US experts who would monitor compliance with local labor reform in Mexico.
“This provision, the result of political decisions by Congress and the Administration in the United States, was not, for obvious reasons, consulted with Mexico,” Seade wrote in the letter. “And, of course, we disagree.”
USMCA was signed more than a year ago to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), but Democrats controlling the US House of Representatives insisted on major changes to labor and environmental enforcement before voting.
The letter, released on Saturday, is dated Friday and addressed to US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. Seade said he would travel to Washington on Sunday to raise the issues directly with Lighthizer and lawmakers.
“Unlike the rest of the provisions that are clearly within the internal scope of the United States, the provision referred to does have effects with respect to our country and therefore, should have been consulted,” Seade wrote.
Both Canada and the US House Ways and Means Committee said the deal included a mechanism for verification of compliance with union rights at the factory level in Mexico by independent labor experts.
Some Mexican business groups bemoaned a lack of clarity and conflicting information on how the rules would actually be enforced under the deal, the first text of which became public only on Wednesday.