Tech giants, jewellers believe their continued efforts to make “conflict-free” products will be undermined without the law. 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 U.S. President Donald Trump’s pledge to cut government regulations and a long-held goal of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. If that does not happen, congressional Republicans are expected to try defunding it, which they attempted last year. At the same time, federal regulators recently announced that they plan to “reconsider” the law’s scope. The acting head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, the agency that oversees the regulation, called it “a misguided rule.”
But in a surprising move, several major companies say they will not abandon the standard even if the law is gutted. While corporations normally cheer in unison when regulations are cut, this controversial rule has prompted a different reaction.
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.”
They do not want to back away from that now. But they worry their efforts will be undermined without the law to support them.
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