May 21, 2007
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world's largest business federation representing more than three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region, opposes H.R. 2264, the "No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act of 2007." This legislation would do nothing to lower the price of oil, but would set a dangerous precedent.
H.R. 2264 proposes to amend the Sherman Act to make price-setting actions by foreign oil-producing and exporting cartels illegal and subject to the jurisdiction of United States courts. Specifically, any foreign state that restrains the trade of oil, gas, or petroleum products will be held to have waived its sovereign immunity and will be liable for any antitrust violations and judgments resulting therefrom. While the Chamber is unalterably opposed to all attempts by any organization—even foreign states and their agents—to create an anti-competitive market in any product, the approach taken by H.R. 2264 would have devastating impacts on the ability of a nation-state to sustain itself in a world where any country could subject any other country to liability in a foreign country. This legislation would eliminate the doctrine of sovereign immunity, which is the basis of all national sovereignty.
Although H.R. 2264 limits itself to restraint of trade in oil, natural gas, or petroleum products, it would create a dangerous precedent. There would be a domino effect: once sovereign immunity has been eliminated for one action of a state or its agents, it can be eliminated for all state actions and the actions of agents of the state. Under such a legal regime, the United States and all its agents throughout the world could be tried before a foreign court for any activity that the foreign state wishes to make an offense. The result: international relations and diplomacy would cease, foreign travel would be dangerous for all government officials, and every American asset in any country, including military bases, would be at risk. Furthermore, this legislation would be counterproductive. Many countries would simply stop selling oil—a necessity for the economy—to the United States.
The Chamber strongly urges you to preserve sovereign immunity by voting no on H.R. 2264. The Chamber may consider votes on, or in relation to, this issue in our annual How They Voted scorecard.
R. Bruce Josten