Calls for tariffs on Canadian aluminum come with a Glencore twist – by Gabriel Friedman (Financial Post – July 11, 2020)

The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement was supposed to mark a new era in trade relations between Ottawa and Washington. Instead it came into force on July 1 overshadowed by the Trump Administration’s threats to re-impose tariffs on Canadian aluminum.

While political analysts have speculated about whether the tough talk, which began last month, may have had more to do with re-election campaigning than economic policy, inside aluminum industry circles the possibility of new tariffs has raised eyebrows for other reasons.

That’s because one of the world’s largest commodities players, Switzerland-based Glencore Plc — which mines nickel, copper, zinc and thermal coal in Canada and has partnerships worth billions of dollars with some of this country’s largest pension plans — is a major investor in a Chicago-based aluminum producer closely tied to the tariff fight.

Century Aluminum Co. is one of two aluminum producers represented by an industry group called the American Primary Aluminum Association (APAA), which has lobbied the Trump administration for the new tariffs, claiming in a July 7 press release that “the behaviour of the Canadian aluminum industry … is threatening American aluminum jobs.”

Glencore is Century’s largest investor, controlling a 47 per cent stake, including all of its Series A convertible preferred stock. It also holds a seat on the board of directors.

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