It has been a while since we talked about the possibility of a WTO complaint against OPEC. Given the recent increase in gas prices, I was a bit surprised that it took the U.S. Presidential campaigns so long to raise the issue, but at long last here is something from Hillary Clinton:
Take more aggressive action to pressure OPEC to increase production - OPEC recently reiterated that it will not even consider increasing crude output until September 2008, even though limited supplies are contributing to record oil prices. Hillary believes we should be taking more aggressive action to address OPEC’s control over global production levels and hold OPEC accountable for its decisions. President Bush’s efforts to pressure OPEC over the past seven years have been inconsistent and unsuccessful. Hillary supports sending a strong signal to OPEC that the era of complacency has ended. Hillary will:
- Use the WTO to Challenge OPEC’s Production Quotas - With nine of the thirteen OPEC member countries also being members of the WTO, Hillary believes we should use the tools available at the WTO to address OPEC’s refusal to increase production. WTO rules currently prohibit member countries from imposing export quotas. Yet OPEC member countries are actively and explicitly banding together to restrict oil production and affect global prices. Hillary is calling on the President to engage in immediate negotiations with OPEC members and, if no progress is made, file a formal complaint against OPEC countries at the WTO. Filing a complaint at the WTO will send a clear signal to OPEC countries that the U.S. is committed to an open, transparent global oil market. Such a step will give OPEC members an incentive to increase production as well.
Some of the legal issues involved were discussed at the links provided above.
For good measure, she also wants to take antitrust action:
Allow OPEC Production Decisions to Be Challenged Under U.S. Anti-Trust Law - Currently, OPEC countries cannot be challenged under U.S. anti-trust laws, even when they are engaged in coordinated, commercial activity to control the global oil market. Hillary supports amending the Foreign Sovereignty Immunities Act so that the Justice Department can bring suits against OPEC countries in U.S. courts for price fixing. Changing the rules would help hold OPEC countries accountable for their decisions.