The stalemate in the OPEC talks shows how important it is to address the negotiating needs of all the members of the team on the other side and not just one of them.

At one level OPEC negotiations are strictly between the member states. But of course there is another unspoken, political, negotiation going on with OPEC’s customers at the same time. Countries in the West are also very dependent on the outcome of this ongoing negotiation.

Much attention is spent by the West on trying to influence the largest supplier, Saudi Arabia. Yet OPEC appears to be a democracy where every member has an equal vote. Looking at the 7 countries who opposed an increase in production we have Iraq (previously invaded by the West), Libya (currently being assaulted by the West), and Iran (the subject of a hostile attitude from the West in relation to its nuclear programme). It’s not difficult to see why those countries would oppose an increase in output on political grounds. As for Ecuador, Venezuela, Algeria and Angola, I don’t know how much time we spend trying to influence them but I suspect they don’t come very high up the agenda of our International Diplomacy efforts.

If you want to negotiate a deal with a team on the other side and they all seem to have a stake in the outcome, then it’s important to identify the negotiation needs of all the members of that team and address those needs – otherwise they may see no requirement to address your needs in return…