The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump may consider banning oil imports from Venezuela if the country moves forward with its July 30 National Constituent Assembly, the Financial Times reported Tuesday.
A senior White House official said that “all options are on the table” when asked if such a ban was possible. Moreover, Trump’s administration has reportedly not taken a position on whether Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro should be sent into exile.
“We have not made final decisions but we have a pretty good idea of the direction we are heading,” the official added.
The revelation comes a day after Washington issued sanction threats against Caracas.
“If the Maduro regime imposes its Constituent Assembly on July 30, the United States will take strong and swift economic actions,” Trump said in a statement on Monday.
The U.S. State Department echoed Trump’s threats, asking Venezuela to “abandon the proposed National Constituent Assembly.”
In response, Maduro held a session of the country’s National Defense Council, reaffirming that the National Constituent Assembly “is already in the hands of the people who will exercise their right to vote.”
The U.S. government’s “unbelievable” comments on Venezuela “shows its absolute bias towards the violent and extremist sectors of Venezuelan politics, which favor the use of terrorism to overthrow a popular and democratic government,” the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry added in a statement.
If Washington decides to ban oil imports from Venezuela, it would lose its third major oil supplier in the world. Conversely, Venezuela would lose its top crude petroleum purchaser.
The export value of Venezuelan oil to the United States sits at about US$12.3 billion, according to the Observatory of Economic Complexity.
Despite Trump’s threats, Venezuela has continued to forge ties with some United States-based oil companies working to improve relations. Earlier this week, for example, Caracas’ state-owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela, PDVSA, signed a deal with Oklahoma-based Horizontal Well Drillers to improve oil production in the South American country.
The agreement will include an initial investment of US$200 million for a three-year project, which will eventually be expanded to US$1.3 billion.