Apple continues supply chain transparency as Trump administration considers suspending conflict mineral requirements

“Apple released its 2017 Supplier Responsibility Report today, as concern mounts over the potential impact of a draft directive from the Trump administration that would suspend legislation requiring companies to disclose whether their products contain conflict minerals,” Caroline O’Donovan reports for BuzzFeed News.

“In an interview on Friday, Paula Pyers, Apple’s senior director of supply chain social responsibility, told BuzzFeed News that 2016 was the company’s best year on record in terms of improvements in the supply chain,” O’Donovan reports. “Apple conducted 705 assessments of its supply chain in 2016 and removed three suppliers for failing to meet its standards on labor and human rights, environmental standards, and health and safety. (Apple conducted 574 such assessments in 2015.) Separately, in 2016 Apple audited and booted from its supply chain 22 smelters of conflict minerals.”

“In February, news broke that the Trump administration was considering loosening regulations on businesses that buy conflict minerals; a leaked draft directive would put a Dodd–Frank rule requiring companies to report conflict mineral usage on hiatus for at least two years… Last month, Apple told the Washington Post that it doesn’t want to see conflict mineral regulation rolled back, a point Pyers reiterated to BuzzFeed News,” O’Donovan reports. “Pyers said Apple will file its conflict minerals report with the SEC by the required late May deadline. She noted that the company has had “quite a bit of dialogue” with the agency and members of the Trump administration over the possible suspension of the conflict minerals reporting requirement.”

Read more in the full article here.

“The 2010 Dodd-Frank law explicitly gives the president authority to order the Securities and Exchange Commission to temporarily suspend or revise the rule for two years if it is in the national security interest of the United States,” The Express reports. “The conflict minerals rule was pushed by human rights groups who want companies to tell investors if their products contain tantalum, tin, gold or tungsten mined from the Democratic Republic of Congo, in the hopes it will help curb the funding of armed groups. But business groups have staunchly opposed the measure, saying it forces companies to furnish politically-charged information that is irrelevant to making investment decisions.”

“They have also complained it costs too much money for companies to trace the source of the minerals through the supply chain,” The Express reports. “In 2014, a U.S. appeals court struck down a part of the conflict minerals law after the Business Roundtable, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers sued the SEC over the rule. The rest of the rule, however, remained intact and companies are still required to carry out due diligence and report the details of those inquiries in public reports filed with the SEC.”

“The SEC cannot permanently repeal the rule without a law passed by Congress. However, it can use its broad exemptive powers to scale back some of the requirements or stop enforcing the rule entirely,” The Express reports. “Last week, Acting SEC chairman Michael Piwowar took steps toward doing just that, by announcing he has asked SEC staff to reconsider how companies should comply with it and whether “additional relief” is warranted. Piwowar did not explicitly ask President Trump to utilise his powers under Dodd-Frank to temporality suspend the rule; however, in his statement, he spoke about how he had traveled to Africa to study the rule’s impact and raised concerns about its effect on national security.”

Read more in the full article here.

“In the leaked draft memo seen by Reuters, the Secretary of State and Secretary of the Treasury were asked to propose a plan for addressing human rights violations and the funding of armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo and report back within 180 days,” Sarah N. Lynch and Emily Stephenson report for Reuters. “The memo also lays out a justification for suspending the rule, saying that while it has helped discourage some American companies from purchasing materials in the region, it has also led to ‘some job loss.'”

Lynch and Emily report, “It also cited 2014 SEC estimates about the costs imposed on companies, which entailed upfront costs of $3 billion to $4 billion, and $200 million per year thereafter.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple’s 2017 Supplier Responsibility Report is here.


  1. Kill Dodd-Frankenstein!

    We expect to be cutting a lot out of Dodd-Frank, because, frankly, I have so many people, friends of mine, that have nice businesses that can’t borrow money. They just can’t get any money because the banks just won’t let them borrow because of the rules and regulations in Dodd-Frank. — President Trump, Feb. 2017

    1. First: while you are well trained at posting right wing talking points, it is plainly obvious you have never read the Dodd Frank bill and have no idea what it does. Ability to lend money is in no way impacted whatsoever by Dodd-Frank.

      But by all means, go ahead and take business advice from a tweetaholoc crybaby who has abused bankruptcy privileges to much so that he has been blacklisted by most banks and contractors.

      Dodd-Frank primarily accomplishes the following:

      1) It created the Financial Stability Oversight Council, which stress tests banks to ensure that they have fiscal management systems that can prevent the kind of collapse that took down Lehman Bros. I.E., banks need an orderly shutdown in case of an overrun to minimize the risk of insolvency. This protects the bank as much as it protects the public. Good rule.

      2) The “Volcker rule” was implemented to prevent savings banks from acting like high-risk gambling dens. Deposit institutions simply need to have enough capital to cover their costs. No longer can we have banks with no money using it all on high stakes, zero security investments. That is what an investment bank is for. Good rule.

      3) Dodd-Frank requires that risky derivatives like credit default swaps must be traded in public, not in black pools that could not be witnessed by outside observers, including the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Good rule.

      4) Credit rating agencies, once the lapdog of the industries they were supposed to be grading, are now subject to review and can be decertified if they cook the books. Good rule.

      5) The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau can directly intercede to help a consumer that has been swindled by a predatory lender. Good rule, we all know that payday loan places and shoddy outfits like Countrywide Mortgage took advantage of people with no financial sense and the result was a taxpayer expense we all paid for. Good rule.

      6) Whistle blower protections in the Frank-Dodd will allow people to report fraud in financial institutions without fear of employer retaliation. Good Rule.

      First Whatever — please explain specifically which of these onerous regulations is unreasonable or contributes in any way to the cost of lending? You are just whining because the Pavlovian reaction that Faux News has trained you to have is that all rules are bad. In their twisted world, Football would be played with no helmets and no officiating. Good luck with that.

      1. Come ON, man. It’s just WRONG to force companies to do anything just because the government wants it…. oh, unless it’s hiring practices which in that case, the government has no choice but to regulate.

        1. Trumpanzees cheer every time the idiot in chief meddles in business, sending twitter storms against companies who don’t stroke his inflated ego. Then they whine about meaningful regulations that everyone relies on to transact fair and honest business. Go figure.

  2. In less than twenty years, roughly three and a half million people have died in conflicts within the Democratic Republic of Congo. Another million or two have died in neighboring countries. That does not count all the people who are HIV positive as a result of the endemic rape culture and who will eventually die.

    The weapons used in those conflicts did not drop as free gifts from the sky. They were bought with cash earned through the sale of conflict minerals to developed countries. Relaxing the rules against the importation of such minerals to the USA may save a few American jobs at the cost of thousands (if not tens or hundreds of thousands) of African lives.

    Even to someone who brags “America First,” is that really a fair tradeoff, or is it a complete surrender of all that makes us civilized humans?

    1. Like much of Dodd-Frankenstein, it’s misguided and stifling.

      If Apple or any other company wants to keep doing it, voluntarily, more power to them, but these attempts to verify that suppliers do not buy conflict minerals are often fruitless and a huge waste of money and time. It’s more burdensome overregulation. The current requirement has failed to reduce militia conflicts anyway.

      1. First whatever – see my post above.

        Also, see if you can stick to the topic — millions of people die every year as a result of brutal regimes. You seem to think that embargoes against immoral regimes is bad for business. Do you have any morals at all? Burdensome regulation is what separates civil nations from tribal thugs in a race to the bottom. Three is a reason the wild west is over and now America lives under a set of rules. Good business and the very long term survival of human society requires that we learn to elevate and enforce moral standards even if it costs you a precious dollar in potential short term profit.

        We shall see if Apple has any morals. I suspect many beancounters now working there don’t really care, but some leaders at Apple do:

      2. While the Trump administration wants to lower the bar for scummy companies to follow shoddy business practices that have direct negative impacts to people and environment, Apple proves that it is profitable to take the high road and pioneer higher standards for the entire supply chain. This is one thing that I do commend Apple leadership for doing, as it clearly has been good for everyone, with no negative impact on Apple’s profit either.

  3. These are the actions of a Russian puppet.

    Today it was revealed that Trump’s “advisor”, son-in-law Kushner, had multiple meetings in Dec. 2016 with Russian ambassador Kislyak and also previously unreported meetings with Sergey Gorkov, the chief of Vnesheconombak, which was santioned by the USA due to Russian meddling in Crimea and Ukraine. The bank is viewed by the international community as Putin’s piggybank, being used to pay off loyal oligarchs who do Putin’s bidding.

    It should also be noted that Kushner was seeking investment funds to refinance the Trump’s routinely over-leveraged real estate holdings. American banks have refused to grant the Trumps special terms.

    At this point, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that Trump, as always, is attempting to leverage the US presidency for personal financial gain. His foreign business dealings not only with Russian banks but also with the Chinese state-owned Anbang Insurance Group and others have been hidden from public view, his supporters seemingly disinterested in learning what a crook he really is.

    This latest move to allow international trade in conflict minerals shows that Trump is not interested in American jobs or upholding honest business standards. He is willing to use the office of the presidency for personal financial gain, and to reward his internationalist crony business friends. What a shame.

    Thank you Apple for doing the exact opposite.

      1. At least Apple’s management

        1. Passed middle-school geography and understands that there is a world outside the United States of America. They do not live exclusively in a completely made up media reality where four people getting killed by a lone-wolf crazy person in London is front-page news while four million people getting killed by Western-funded rebels in Africa is barely worth mentioning. Apple is taking steps to at least slow down the flow of cash from blood minerals that finances the mass killing, while the Trump Administration is making it easier to finance genocide.

        2. Passed middle-school physical science and understands that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. Unlike the Trump Administration’s denial of basic chemistry, Apple is taking steps to increase the use of renewable energy sources (which also happen to be cheaper in the long run than burning coal and dumping the tailings and ash into American rivers).

        Apple is, indeed, interested in social justice. The alternative model is IG Farben, which applied science and technology as its customers requested without worrying about politics or morality.

  4. Very interesting to see the few remaining partisan right wingers post propaganda or attacks but they just have no defense for the obvious immorality or these policies and they have no desire to discuss the long term consequences of greed-driven legislation.

    America will not be remembered as a benevolent world leader if it now chooses to be just another colonial exploiting militaristic empire. We have all seen how this movie ends. It’s happened to every prior arrogant me-first empire.

    Imagine how great America would be if instead of pissing off the rest of the world, America focused on diplomatically convincing the world to work together for long term prosperity for everyone? The more Americans hoard money and build walls and make excuses for corporate takeover of the formerly democratic mechanisms that allowed individual freedoms, the less peaceful and safe they will be. Stop pretending the republican party is always right when 90% of the time they are just lapdogs for multinationals that don’t give a shit about individual liberty or any nation’s sovereignty. Think people. The more political assholes push everyone to play the us vs. them game, everyone loses while the corporations steal.

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