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Canada won’t tip hand on possibility of import tariffs on Saudi oil

OTTAWA — Canada’s energy minister will speak to his U.S. and Mexican counterparts Thursday in a bid to generate a common front ahead of talks by the world’s biggest economies aimed at ending the global oil price wars.

But Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland refuses to say whether Canada would consider slapping import duties on oil from Saudi Arabia or Russia if they can’t reach an agreement to curb production to respond to the drastic drop in global demand for oil.

U.S. President Donald Trump is threatening such tariffs from his end, but in a daily briefing to media on the COVID-19 situation Freeland would not answer two direct questions posed about Canada’s position.

World oil prices plummeted in recent weeks, as COVID-19 eviscerated demand and then Saudi Arabia and Russia refused to curb production, increasing their supplies of oil the world cannot possibly use right now.

Freeland says the situation is terrible for Canada, where the cost to produce a barrel of oil is more than twice the cost in Saudi Arabia and slightly higher than in Russia.

Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan will speak by phone with the American and Mexican energy secretaries Thursday, before G20 energy ministers hold virtual talks on Friday morning.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 8, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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