Argentina calls for exemption from US steel tariffs

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Buenos Aires (AFP)

The Argentine government said Friday it will seek to avoid US trade tariffs on steel and aluminum by calling for an exemption for its meager exports.

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."

US President Donald Trump slapped steep trade tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum on Thursday, sparking fears of a trade war.

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 by the tariffs -- 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.