Saudi Arabia has voiced its concerns over remarks made by US President-elect Donald Trump that the country has to block oil imports from the Arab kingdom.
While still campaigning, Trump vowed to secure the US energy sector’s independence from “our foes and the oil cartels” and to create “complete American energy independence.”
“At his heart President-elect Trump will see the benefits and I think the oil industry will also be advising him accordingly that blocking trade in any product is not healthy,” Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said in a Financial Times interview, RT reported on Wednesday.
Saudi Arabia is the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ (OPEC) biggest oil producer and the largest Middle Eastern oil supplier to the US, most of whose oil imports come from domestic production or are procured from Canada.
“The US is sort of the flag-bearer for capitalism and free markets,” said Falih, adding, “The US continues to be a very important part of a global industry that is interconnected, that is dealing with a fungible commodity which is crude oil. So having equalization through free trade is very healthy for oil.”
Riyadh is dealing with economic struggles brought on by a budget deficit of nearly $100 billion caused by a sharp slump in oil prices as well as its rising army expenditure, a large amount of which is being funneled into a military campaign against Yemen, where over 10,200 people have been killed and thousands more injured, according to the UN.
Falih noted that Riyadh is currently waiting for Trump to take office in January to see what he actually does as some of his campaign rhetoric had amounted to “50,000 feet announcements” that could change.