• At a press briefing on Sunday, President Donald Trump said if Saudia Arabia and Russia couldn’t cut a deal to end their oil price war he would impose “very substantial tariffs” on oil imports. 
  • Global oil prices have fallen by about two-thirds this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Saudi Arabia and Russia have been waging a price war, further hurting the market.
  • Trump added he didn’t think he would have to impose the tariffs since neither nation benefited from the current situation.
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President Donald Trump told reporters on Sunday that if Saudi Arabia and Russia, two of the world’s largest oil producers, couldn’t cut a deal to end their price war, he’d impose “very substantial” tariffs on their oil supplies. 

“If they don’t get along, I’d do tariffs… very substantial tariffs,” Trump said. “I would absolutely do that… we will save tens of thousands of jobs.”

But Trump downplayed using tariffs in the immediate future.

“I would use tariffs if I had to,” he said, “but I don’t think I’m going to have to as Russia doesn’t benefit from this, Saudi Arabia doesn’t benefit from this.”

The threat of “very substantial tariffs” comes after Trump said on Saturday that he would impose tariffs if he had to in order to protect US jobs. 

Globally, oil prices have fallen about two-thirds this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The combination of low demand and a price-war between Russia and Saudi Arabia hasn’t helped, Reuters reported. 

While the United States is one of the world’s largest oil-producing countries, with a struggling market and excess oil available, companies face bankruptcy, and workers could be laid off. 

Saudi Arabia and Russia were meant to meet to discuss an agreement to lower production on Monday, but the meeting was delayed until Thursday, after the two nations got into a dispute about who was to blame, according to Reuters

The agreement is being led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and is meant to be a global agreement. But on Saturday Trump said: “I don’t care about OPEC.” He also said he thought OPEC was going to destroy itself.

On April 6, when the market opened oil prices had fallen as much as $3 a barrel.

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