(Bloomberg) — Rio Tinto Plc’s top executive is raising the alarm that the unfettered flow of Russian aluminum into the US is making North American producers less competitive.
Russian imports, which remain exempt from US sanctions, are flowing into the country unrestricted when allies like Australia continue to face restrictions left over from the Trump administration, Chief Executive Officer Jakob Stausholm said in an interview at Bloomberg’s New York headquarters. His comments are the most candid about the aluminum industry since taking the helm of Rio at the start of 2021.
The warning from the head of one of the world’s largest aluminum producers comes as US trade data shows Russia was the third-largest aluminum exporter to the US in August. Monthly imports from Russia were up almost 60% last month from April levels even as worldwide buyers refused to purchase Russian metal due to its invasion of Ukraine.
Aluminum prices are down more than 20% this year as demand across the globe has been hit by inflation, supply-chain issues and surging energy prices across Europe. The regional price to ship aluminum in the US is near the lowest since December, indicating demand for appliances and automobiles to window frames are shrinking in the face of uncertain economic headwinds in the world’s largest economy.
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