Trump Advisor Pushes Bill to Investigate OPEC Over Unfair Trade Practises

Thursday May 19, 2016

U.S. congressman and Donald Trump advisor Kevin Cramer is calling for an investigation of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to determine if the cartel is guilty of unfair trade practices, the Financial Times reports.

Republican Cramer is co-sponsoring a bill along with House of Representatives members Trent Franks (another Republican), and Collin Peterson (a Democrat) to establish a commission that would assess OPEC's attempts to dominate the world oil market and determine if they are anti-competitive.

State-controlled national oil companies would also fall under the commission's scrutiny.

Cramer told The Financial Times, "I want to be sure there aren't games being played to create monopolies around the world."

Depending on its findings, the commission would  recommend retaliatory measures involving "taxes, trade, defense, and research and development, and diplomacy, among others," according to the congressman. 

The bill proposed by Cramer, who represents North Dakota, reflects a sentiment by many Americans that the cartel is to blame for the collapse in oil prices, which has caused over 130 energy-related companies to go bankrupt and 131,000 people to lose their jobs.

Cramer said he expects presumptive Republican presidential nominee Trump to be receptive to his bill: "It's like everything he talks about: we want fair, transparent trade.

"We don't want to hamper our own ability to sell into the global market, but we want to be sure our competitors and us are all playing by the same rules."

Past attempts by the U.S. to combat OPEC, including a 2008 lawsuit, have been ineffective, but Cramer says the ultimate aim of his strategy is to reduce American dependence on imported oil: "If we didn't have to buy so much oil from certain parts of the world, terrorists would not have enough money to buy a box of sparklers to use against us."

Trump has called for restrictions on the oil trade, leading some observers to think that if elected president in November he would ban Saudi Arabia oil imports in order to pressure the kingdom to do more to fight ISIS.

OPEC members have hardly been reluctant to express their opinion about the U.S.'s growing global presence as an oil producer: in February, Ali Al-Naimi, oil minister to Saudi Arabia, warned oil executives gathered in Houston to lower their costs or "get out" of the market.