The Shareholder Advocacy Forum joined a group of other free-market groups and signed a coalition letter to encourage President Trump to use his authority before his first term expires and temporarily suspend the “conflict minerals” provision under Dodd-Frank for two years in the interest of national security. Waving the mandate will enhance the ability for manufactures and distributors to more rapidly develop and deliver COVID-19 vaccines in the coming year quickly and efficiently.
Currently, the conflict minerals regulation interrupts the supply chain of minerals such as tin, tungsten, tantalum, and gold. It has shrunk the supply of most materials needed to resolve the healthcare emergency, as these materials are essential to both producing the vaccine and keeping it cold in transportation, which is a critical component of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution process.
This regulation has slowed health advances as the world rapidly tries to cure the coronavirus disease. The dampening effect comes from the regulation’s immense cost. Following Dodd-Frank’s passage, the Wall Street Journal found the conflict minerals regulation cost firms $709 million to trace their supply chains for conflict minerals in 2014.
The regulation has proved nearly impossible to implement. The report found 90% of firms were unable to confirm whether their supply chains were conflict-free. This forced many companies to end conducting business operations within the region surrounding the Democratic Republic of the Congo altogether. More than a decade after the regulation, this still holds true at a time when the region’s long-term underinvestment poses an obstacle to implementing a COVID-19 cure.
The coalition letter urges President Trump to waive the regulation for two years, which Dodd-Frank provides the President authority to do in the interest of national security. Since these minerals are central to ventilators, X-ray machines, syringes, and compressors that refrigerate vaccines in transportation, the present circumstance is a clear case of national security interest.
As Competitive Enterprise Institute’s John Berlau wrote in a recent article, “the national security interest—and global interest—of defeating Covid-19 cannot be weighed down by outdated red tape that has failed to serve even its own stated purpose of alleviating suffering.”