On 16th January 2013, a group of associations, the Business Roundtable, US Chamber of Commerce, and the National Association of Manufacturers, filed their opening remarks in the process to request a review of the SEC’s conflict minerals rule. The 198-page document described the key issues which particularly concerned the cost-benefit of the rule which the SEC estimated would cost US$3 to $4 billion upfront, plus more than $200 million each year, but which the group said was an underestimate. The filed remarks stated that a financial burden of that size shouldn’t be imposed without determining whether the rules will yield any benefits. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the groups said in court papers that the SEC had itself admitted it didn’t know if the rules would benefit the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its surrounding region, the stated intent of Congress in creating the provision.
The groups also argued that the rules violate companies’ US First Amendment rights by compelling them to publicly state their products are “not DRC conflict free,” even if such a disclosure is false and is simply reflecting the difficulty and inability of companies to fully trace their supply chains to determine the minerals’ origins. It was also claimed that he SEC was wrong to conclude that it could not create a de minimis exception to the rule, and that the “reasonable country of origin inquiry” is unreasonably stringent by including conflict minerals that companies have only a “reason to believe… may have originated” in the covered countries.
The detailed file of the SEC is expected on March 1st 2013.