Today (Aug. 22) two events will take place in the world of international trade, both of which have been in the works for quite a while. In one case, two years is the "long time" I am talking about. In the other: 19 years. In the former case, the event will be met with loud cheers by some but by likely muffled groans from many others. In the latter case, the event will be roundly cheered, except by U.S. businesses who, due to inaction of Congress will have to wait to reap the rewards of this momentus happening.
OK, so what am I going on about?
This morning shortly after 10 am (Eastern time) the Securities and Exchange Commission is expected to approve a final rule to implement the "conflict minerals" due diligence and reporting provisions of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act. Prior to the meeting the final rule had not become public, but speculation has been that the Commission would not be able to accede to many of the requests made by the business community to make the regulations realistic and effective. Who would celebrate this? Many members of Congress as well as non-governmental organizations that have supported taking action against industrial users of certain minerals in order to try to help eliminate violent conflict in central Africa. Today is not the end of the "conflict minerals" story by any means.
Today in Geneva, Switzerland, the Russian Federation finally joins the World Trade Organization as a full member, concluding 19 years of negotiations. President Putin and all will lower barriers to the Russian market and bring the vast country fully into the international rules-based trading system, including dispute settlement procedures and protections on intellectual property rights. However, since the House of Representatives chose not to consider and approve legislation prior to the August recess that would permanently normalize trade relations between Washington and Moscow, U.S. business must wait to get all of the market and legal benefits of Russia's joining the WTO. The House and Senate are expected to take up the legislation when they return in September, but not before U.S. exporters face losing contracts and potential sales to their global competitors who have better access to Russia starting today. To tell to your Representative and Senators to approve the legislation, click here.