The UK Parliament and Extractive Industries

The UK Parliament and Extractive Industries

David Cameron, the UK prime minister, has spoken in Davos today of the need for transparency on international trade and investment.  He’s right, of course.  Recent legislation such as the Dodd Frank Act in the United States and the Bribery Act in the UK have been welcomed by investors across the board.

The Extractive Industries in the UK are of course subject to both pieces of legislation (many are quoted in NY) and additionally most belong to some self-regulatory body or other (such as the excellent ICMM).  However, although companies from Glencore and Xtrata to The Barrick Gold Corporation to a truly impressive array of companies throughout the sector.  And while UK ministers rarely miss a chance to encourage developing nations to sign up to the EITI, which is based in London, they do meet strict resistance from major nations such as Brazil.  And why?  Because the UK isn’t signed up itself!

Some developing nations are sceptical that there big hidden costs and red tape involved in EITI – that’s why they’r reluctant to sign up. But the UK government, and many studies, say very different.  No, it seems more likely that it’s a question of ‘signals’ to companies which operate in the UK itself.  Those companies are important, of cours, but it seems mad that this misconceived mindset can prevent the UK government from avoiding a truly super thing, politically and commercially, which the UK actually leads.

UK MPs who support the groups this website seeks to highlight have today put an Early Day Motion to the UK Parliament. It reads;

‘This House recognises the important economic role played within the UK and across the developing world by the extractive industries; commends recent important steps forward in respect of transparency made by both industry and government; welcomes the prime minister’s statement at Davos on the subject and urges the government to commit the UK to join the London-based Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.’

They’ve also submitted a formal question asking the government if it will sign up to the EITI.  Actually, it makes perfect political and commercial sense so we think the government will agree.  Let’s see what answer comes – it’ll come in the middle of next week.