White House plans directive targeting 'conflict minerals' rule: sources

Wed Feb 8, 2017 8:31pm EST
 
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By Sarah N. Lynch and Emily Stephenson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump is planning to issue a directive targeting a controversial Dodd-Frank rule that requires companies to disclose whether their products contain "conflict minerals" from a war-torn part of Africa, according to sources familiar with the administration's thinking.

Reuters could not learn precisely when the directive would be issued or what the final version would say. However, a leaked draft that has been floating around Washington and was seen by Reuters on Wednesday calls for the rule to be temporarily suspended for two years.

Reuters could not independently verify the authenticity of the document. The sources spoke on Tuesday on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record about the plan.

The 2010 Dodd-Frank law explicitly gives the president authority to order the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to temporarily suspend or revise the rule for two years if it is in the national security interest of the United States.

The conflict minerals rule was endorsed by human rights groups that want companies to tell investors if their products contain tantalum, tin, gold or tungsten mined from the Democratic Republic of Congo in the hope that such disclosures would curb funding to armed groups.

Business groups opposed to the measure have contended that it forces companies to furnish politically charged information that is irrelevant to making investment decisions and that it costs too much for companies to trace the source of minerals through the supply chain.

In the leaked draft memo seen by Reuters, the Secretary of State and Secretary of the Treasury were asked to propose a plan for addressing human rights violations and the funding of armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo and report back within 180 days.

The memo also lays out a justification for suspending the rule, saying that while it has helped discourage some American companies from purchasing materials in the region, it has also led to "some job loss."   Continued...

 
The White House is seen in at dusk in Washington, U.S., February 7, 2017.  REUTERS/Jim Bourg