Trump Attacks OPEC Again, Demanding Cash for Military Protection

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump resumed his attacks on OPEC, saying the cartel is pushing oil prices too high and demanding that some members start paying the U.S. for military protection.

"OPEC nations are, as usual, ripping off the rest of the world and I don’t like it,” Trump said in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Tuesday. “We want them to stop raising prices. We want them to start lowering prices and they must contribute substantially to military protection from now on.”

Trump is ratcheting up the pressure on the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries after the group ignored his call last week for rapid action to reduce oil prices. A meeting on Sunday between the cartel and allies including Russia ended without any specific pledge to raise output. International oil prices have since jumped above $82 a barrel, the highest level in almost four years, and major traders see $100 on the horizon.

“We defend many of these nations for nothing, and then they take advantage of us by giving us high oil prices. Not good!” Trump said. “We’re not going to put up with it -- these horrible prices -- much longer."

The accusation that other nations around the world are taking advantage of the U.S., either by benefiting from military protection or generous trade deals, is a common refrain for Trump. He has leveled the charge at some of America’s closest allies, including Canada, South Korea and members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Many Middle Eastern members of OPEC spend heavily on defense. Last year, Saudi Arabia spent more than 10 percent of its GDP on the military, compared with 3.2 percent for the U.S., according to World Bank data.

During a visit to the White House in March, Trump famously presented Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman with a large chart detailing the $12.5 billion in purchases of planes, missiles and frigates the kingdom had agreed with U.S. companies in the preceding year.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.