Public companies whose products contain certain so-called African "conflict minerals" will not be forced to immediately start complying with the new disclosure regulations set to be adopted this year, the top U.S. securities regulator revealed on Tuesday."The commission is working to finalize the adoption and I'm hopeful in the next couple of months, it will be done," U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Schapiro told lawmakers during a hearing on the agency's 2013 budget request."We will have a phase-in period, I don't know how long, that will ... give sufficient time for some of the supply chain due diligence mechanisms to be developed and put in place."
This is a clear "defeat" for the activists, in that they have been adamant in demanding an immediate phase-in. In truth, however, I can't imagine how a phase-in will make the situation any better or worse in the DRC. The fact is that the Western companies are avoiding the region as best they can already, and nothing in this ruling will induce them to return any time soon. The disclosure rules will affect how companies do the paperwork associated with the law, but won't affect what is actually happening on the ground.