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Why Apple and Intel don’t want to see the conflict minerals rule rolled back
Author: Todd Frankel, Washington Post (USA), Published on: 23 February 2017
Apple doesn’t want to see it scrapped. Neither does Intel or Tiffany & Co. But the U.S. conflict minerals law — which requires American public companies to avoid using minerals that fund war and human rights abuses in the Congo region — is widely seen today as facing its most serious threat since its passage in 2010. The White House is considering a suspension of the law, part of President Trump’s pledge to cut government regulations and a long-held goal of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce... [Several] major companies say they will not abandon the standard even if the law is gutted... That is because something interesting has happened since the law took effect: Companies say the conflict minerals law has created an expectation both inside their corporate headquarters and among consumers that their products will be “conflict-free.”... But they worry their efforts will be undermined without the law to support them. “We do this because it’s the right thing to do,” Apple said...[adding that] it plans to keep those protections “regardless of whether or not the law requires it.” Apple said it is pleading its case behind the scenes to White House and SEC officials...
From the start, the law was assailed as too burdensome and expensive by [industry groups]... They also say the law is ineffective. A 2015 Government Accountability Office report found that no companies could determine whether their minerals financed or benefited armed groups in the Congo region. But supporters of the law say that is not unexpected...and that the compliance efforts have had an effect. More than 200 mines and smelters in the Congo region have been certified as “conflict-free.” “We have seen real change on the ground,” said Karen Hayes, senior director at Pact, a nongovernmental group that coordinates verification efforts in Congo... Several African groups, including the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region and a collection of 41 Congolese civil society organizations, recently announced their support for the conflict minerals law. [also refers to positive statements by Richline (part of Berkshire Hathaway); neutral position of Boeing; opposition to law by ArvinMeritor, Neotech]