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article imageMacri urges Trump to exempt Argentina from US tariffs

By AFP     Mar 9, 2018 in World

Argentine President Mauricio Macri urged President Donald Trump on Friday to exempt the South American country from US steel and aluminum tariffs.

Macri made the plea in a phone conversation with Trump, a day after the US president signed off on the tariffs, sparking fears of a trade war.

"Trump undertook to evaluate his request for Argentina to be exempt from any restrictive measures that affect exports of steel and aluminum to the United States," Macri's office said in a statement.

A White House statement said the two leaders had discussed "potential United States tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum" and had "agreed to stay in touch to strengthen the robust bilateral relationship."

The Argentine government signalled its intention to seek an exemption for its meager exports in a statement earlier Friday.

Argentina's exports to the US in the sectors are so small they have no effect on the market, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

"Argentine exports represent only 0.6 percent of steel and 2.3 percent of aluminum of all US imports in both sectors, and therefore Argentina does not cause nor contribute to the distortions that affect the world markets and the US," the ministry said.

It said the government would try to open talks with the US "with a view to an exception being made on those tariffs."

Argentina's steel producers' association has warned the tariffs could lead to iron and steel products from Asia being diverted from the US and dumped into the Latin American market.

Two major Argentine steel producers stand to be affected -- aluminum company Aluar and Techint, which sells seamless pipes to the US oil industry, but has a factory in Houston, Texas.

Between January and November last year, the most recent period for which official figures are available, Argentina sold around $200 million of steel tubes and around $500 million of aluminum to the US.

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