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US: Trump advisor wants Opec probed over unfair trade

 |  May 18, 2016

A US congressman who has been advising Donald Trump on energy policy is leading a plan to investigate Opec, the oil producers’ cartel, for unfair trade practices, reports FT.

Kevin Cramer, a Republican member of the House of Representatives for the oil-producing state of North Dakota, said the US needed to examine whether the cartel was acting anti-competitively to strengthen its hold over the market, because of the importance of energy to national security.

He is one of the sponsors of a bipartisan bill to establish a commission that would investigate the actions of Opec and state-controlled national oil companies around the world, and propose possible remedies.

The move comes at a time of strains in the relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia, Opec’s de facto leader, over the possible roles played by Saudi nationals in assisting the 9/11 terror attacks.

Opec has been riven by disagreements over the past couple of years and is seen by analysts as having lost its influence over the market. However, concern about the cartel has grown in the US as a result of the collapse in oil prices, which has driven more than 130 US companies into bankruptcy and cost 131,000 jobs, says FT.

One of the factors behind that collapse was Saudi Arabia’s strategy of continuing to produce at high levels above 10m barrels per day, rather than cutting output to ease the glut of oil.

The Opec bill, which is also sponsored by representatives Trent Franks, another Republican, and Collin Peterson, a Democrat, would establish a bipartisan commission to assess whether the cartel was engaged in anti-competitive behaviour, and to recommend possible policy measures involving “taxes, trade, defence, and research and development, and diplomacy, among others.”

Full Content: Financial Times

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