Rio Tinto Aluminum CEO hopes ‘common sense’ will prevail on trade actions

Rio Tinto Aluminum CEO hopes ‘common sense’ will prevail on trade actions
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MONTREAL — The head of Rio Tinto’s aluminum division says he expects “common sense” will prevail regarding Canada’s tariff exemption by the U.S. and a potential trade battle with China.

Alf Barrios says he hopes the U.S. administration will not end the steel and aluminum tariff exemption for Canada that is set to expire April 30 and ultimately maintain North America’s integrated industry and supply chain.

In an interview Tuesday, he says the Canadian aluminum industry is considered to be part of the continent’s defence manufacturing base.

Barrios adds it’s too early to understand the global impact of 10 per cent aluminum tariffs applied against many countries.

But he adds that the best thing for American aluminum consumers is to have access to high quality, low carbon aluminum produced in Canada using clean hydro power.

As a highly tradable commodity, he says aluminum is primarily affected by GDP and trade.

Barrios says fair trade is the best way to create wealth and he hopes that common sense will prevail between the world’s two largest economies.

Meanwhile, he says the London-based mining giant is reviewing U.S. sanctions against Russian producer Rusal to determine how Rio Tinto will manage its business.

Published reports say Rio Tinto is among the main beneficiaries from actions taken Friday as part of the Trump administration’s attempt to punish Russia for actions including activities in Syria, Ukraine and Crimea.

Global aluminum prices have risen as the sanctions have fuelled concerns over supply.

The Canadian Press

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