A webcast of a recent hearing by the US Financial Services Committee, held on 10th May 2012, has been made available online.

The hearing, entitled “The Costs and Consequences of Dodd-Frank Section 1502: Impacts on America and the Congo” was held to examine section 1502 on conflict minerals, a provision buried deep in the 2,300-page Dodd-Frank Act, which threatens to disadvantage U.S. manufacturers and has resulted in a de facto U.S. embargo of a war-torn African country.

The provision requires thousands of U.S. companies to disclose what steps they are taking to ensure that their products do not contain certain minerals mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, defined as “conflict minerals” by the Act. The requirement has the potential to affect all of the nearly 6,000 publicly-traded companies in the U.S. because these “conflict minerals” are used to make a vast array of products, including consumer goods that contains electronic parts –such as cell phones, computers and music players.

“The conflict minerals provision was added to the Dodd-Frank Act with the best of intentions, but the unintended consequences are impossible to ignore. There are reports this provision is further impoverishing the very people it was supposed to help while doing nothing to stop the violence,” said Financial Services Committee Chairman Spencer Bachus.

The Subcommittee on International Monetary Policy and Trade, chaired by Rep. Gary Miller, examined the provision and its impact on U.S. manufacturers and the people of Congo.

“I have called a hearing on this provision because it has the potential to kill thousands of American jobs and bury American companies under a mountain of paperwork. In addition, instead of reducing the conflict in eastern Congo, as hoped, it is making an already terrible situation even worse,” said Chairman Miller.

One of the witnesses to appear at the hearing, Mvemba Dizolele, a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, argued in the Huffington Post that the mineral trade is just one source of revenue for the armed groups but the source of income for many of the nation’s poor.

“Oversimplification of issues often produces inadequate, counterproductive policies. Dodd-Frank and its proponents who seek to curb U.S. companies penalize the people of eastern Congo, but do little to curtail the militias and their backers,” Dizolele wrote.

The full webcast can be accessed online here.