The United States has withdrawn from an anti-corruption initiative that aims to show how much money is exchanged between governments and companies for access to natural resources, setting it apart from Canada and other countries that have taken steps to improve transparency in the oil, gas and mining sectors.
It’s a move that could make the U.S. more attractive to large extractive companies that prefer to keep their finances away from the public eye—including Saudi Aramco, one of the most secretive oil companies in the world.
The U.S. began the long process of becoming a member of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), an international standard that requires governments to report key information about the extractive sector, in 2011.
The government passed a related law in 2010 that required oil, gas and mining companies to report payments over $100,000 to governments in the United States and around the world. But the American Petroleum Institute, along with other business groups, sued the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission before it could implement the rule. President Donald Trump axed the regulation in February under the Congressional Review Act.
The U.S. EITI “has essentially been dead since then,” says Jana Morgan, Director of Publish What You Pay United States, a coalition of organizations pushing for transparency in the extractive sector.