Major manufacturing and business groups on Tuesday urged a court here to roll back a new U.S. regulation that would soon require major manufacturers to ensure that their global supply chains are free of minerals used to fund violence in the Great Lakes region of central Africa.
Yet the previous day, Intel, the major computer hardware manufacturer, announced the world’s first product formally dubbed free of such materials, stating that its microprocessors would no longer use “conflict minerals”. The announcement highlights trends that advocates of greater supply chain accountability say are already well underway, and which they suggest belie parts of the legal case against the rule.
“This provision has already catalysed reforms of the minerals trade in the Great Lakes region and has prompted both [U.S.] and Congolese companies to carry out supply chain due diligence and source minerals more responsibly,” Carly Oboth, an assistant policy advisor with Global Witness, a watchdog group, told IPS.
“According to consulting firm Claigan, in September 2013 2,946 companies were identified as having conflict minerals compliance programmes … Despite the appeal, many companies have already publically demonstrated the feasibility of the rule as they begin implementation to meet the May 31, 2014 reporting deadline.”
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the Business Roundtable, all major lobby groups, say the new rules impose an undue financial burden on companies and infringe on constitutional guarantees of free speech. The groups say they are supportive of the aims of the regulation, known as Section 1502, but want significant tweaks and the inclusion of certain exemptions.
But supporters counter that the Securities and Exchange Committee (SEC), the country’s lead regulator of publicly listed companies, has already thoroughly weighed these issues.
For the complete article, please see Inter Press Service.