News / Africa

EU May Help Mineral Exporters from Eastern Congo

FILE - Artisanal miners crush tin ore before it is washed and then bagged ready for sale in Nyabibwe, a mining town in South Kivu, DRC.FILE - Artisanal miners crush tin ore before it is washed and then bagged ready for sale in Nyabibwe, a mining town in South Kivu, DRC.
x
FILE - Artisanal miners crush tin ore before it is washed and then bagged ready for sale in Nyabibwe, a mining town in South Kivu, DRC.
FILE - Artisanal miners crush tin ore before it is washed and then bagged ready for sale in Nyabibwe, a mining town in South Kivu, DRC.
Nick Long
Companies exporting from the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo could soon be offered advantages in Europe under a law being drafted by the European Commission.

The draft law seems to be intended to help break the link between the minerals trade and conflict, but without stopping trade altogether.

A delegation of members of the European parliament has been visiting Rwanda, Burundi and the Congo to see how those countries are likely to be affected by a draft European law on so-called “conflict minerals."
 
Leading the delegation is Judith Sargentini.  She says she won’t see the draft law until it is published, in the next few months, but she has some knowledge of its contents.
 
She suggests the law will require EU companies buying tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold to prove their supply chain for these minerals.
 
She says this is in response to legislation passed by the U.S. Congress, in the Dodd Frank Act.  The 2010 law mainly deals with financial regulations but also requires U.S.-listed companies buying any of the above minerals to show they have not funded conflict in Africa's Great Lakes region.
 
"We cannot just have the U.S. work on this issue, when we are the biggest traders with Africa, and ignore this.  It will influence European companies that want to trade on the U.S. market, but more importantly Europe has a responsibility to a lot of countries that are even former colonies," says Sargentini.
 
Asked if the proposed law is also a response to an increase in Chinese imports of these Congolese minerals by companies that are not concerned with the Dodd Frank Act, Sargentini said no, she wouldn’t put it that way.
 
"But I would say that European communication on trade and raw materials is completely influenced by the fear Europe has that China will buy out everything, and we won’t have anything any more," says Sargentini.
 
Avoiding an outright embargo

Critics of the Dodd Frank Act say it resulted initially in a virtual embargo on the Congo’s exports of the four minerals, and an increase in smuggling via neighboring countries.  Sargentini agrees, but suggests the European law should have a different effect.
 
"The Dodd Frank Act led to no trade, which makes people unemployed. That’s not what I’m looking for.  EU legislation doesn’t have to follow the U.S.  It has to put in place legislation that is credible and equally recognized.  It will not be a complete stop on commodities from eastern Congo - even if they were mined in bad circumstances," says Sargentini.
 
She suggests the EU trade commissioner, Belgian Karel de Gucht, who is leading the law drafting process, wants to encourage trade with the Congo.
 
"I think he will suggest some sort of advantages for companies that continue trading in commodities from eastern Congo and make an effort to do this as transparently as possible. What it could be is to make the entry point into the EU easier - make it cheaper or make it faster," says Sargentini.
 
Some Congolese experts say they think the Dodd Frank Act has had a positive effect, helping to cut warlords’ funding.
 
Fidel Bafilemba, who works for the Enough Project in eastern Congo, an organization that campaigns for responsible trading, says the Dodd Frank Act has had positive and negative effects. 
 
He added that the conflict minerals section of the law has not been officially implemented yet, but has had effects because of people’s reactions to how they think it will eventually be applied.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs