æConflict mineralsÆ bill sparks shippers
Legislation aimed at stifling the import of certain minerals from war-torn Congo has electronic shippers looking more closely at their products' components.
The Conflict Minerals Trade Act (H.R. 4128) was signed into law by President Obama last week as a provision to wider financial regulation legislation. The bill was introduced by Reps. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., and Frank Wolf, R-Va., and would develop the means to ensure that so-called 'conflict-free' electronics are available for purchase.
'Americans deserve to know whether the electronics they buy are fueling bloodshed in Africa,' said Rory Anderson, World Vision's deputy director of advocacy and government relations, in a statement in June. 'And steps must be taken to ensure that the multimillion-dollar minerals trade no longer finances the world's greatest humanitarian crisis.'
Minerals targeted by the legislation include tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold, which are mostly mined in eastern Congo. Research Institute ITRI reported that in 2008 the Congo was the source for 5 percent of the world's tin supply.
Advocates for the new regulation said revenues from the sales of these metals fuel the arsenals of violent warlords.
However, some trade experts warned the regulation would be difficult to enforce. Human rights and civil society groups, for instance, have long complained that an international scheme established in 2003 to prevent the trade in so-called conflict diamonds is failing to meet its objectives.
The internationally recognized Kimberley Process Certification Scheme has not effectively addressed issues of non-compliance, smuggling, money laundering and human rights abuses in the world's diamond fields, these groups say.