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Rio Tinto is a 'long, vocal' fair trade supporter, executive says

Last Updated Sep 18, 2017 at 8:00 pm EST

VANCOUVER – An executive for one of the world’s biggest mining companies says Rio Tinto is a “long, vocal supporter of fair trade” and the ongoing renegotiation of NAFTA could be an opportunity to learn from recent best practices.

Gervais Jacques, managing director of Atlantic operations for aluminum, said Canada and the U.S. benefit from its trade relationship, which includes exporting low-carbon aluminum into the States.

He said there is every reason to have confidence that everyone involved understands the importance of the relationship.

Jacques said Rio Tinto views the current renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which began this summer, as a chance to learn from best practices from recently negotiated agreements, like the Canadian European Trade Agreement.

Scotty Greenwood, CEO of the Canadian-American Business Council, said aluminum could emerge as a winner among industries in Canada.

She said it makes more sense for the U.S. to favour a relationship with Canada than a country that wishes it harm.

However, she said, “everything is potentially at risk.”

While the U.S. administration likes to view things through a national security focus, Greenwood said, it is possible the aluminum industry could be hurt in the renegotiation, citing rhetoric from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Jacques and Greenwood spoke at a luncheon hosted by the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade in Vancouver.