Research by an independent research organization, the Responsible Mining Foundation (RMF), found that very few commercial companies doing business in extractive value chains, including metals, minerals, and oil and gas , publicly disclose data on these payments to governments, national oil companies. state-owned companies (CNOs) or other state-owned enterprises (SOEs).
The RMF study also reveals even lower public disclosure regarding asset-backed loans or swap agreements between corporations and governments or state-owned enterprises.
The RMF states that standardizing public disclosure of commodity trade transactions is of critical importance to support financial integrity and good governance of extractive resources.
Sales of metals, minerals, oil and gas are a major source of income for many national economies, accounting for over 50% of export earnings in a range of commodity-dependent countries.
However, these transactions are of great public interest not only because of their contribution to the state coffers, but also because of the risks involved, including corruption, fraud and related problems.
When the study was published in March of this year, only three of the 25 companies – Trafigura, Glencore and Gunvor – disclosed data on these payments; a fourth company – Totsa Total Oil Trading, released data a few weeks later.
The RMF stresses that the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) standard requires implementing countries to make the publication of this transaction mandatory, specifying that the data must be disaggregated by vendor, contract or sale.
In addition, public information was only found for these same four companies, whether in EITI or non-EITI countries.
However, such arrangements have come under scrutiny because of the risks they may pose to the countries concerned, including over-indebtedness, conflicts of commercial interests, and economic and political destabilization.
The study found that only two of the 25 companies – Trafigura and Glencore – publicly disclosed information about these transactions, and those rare disclosures only concerned agreements with EITI countries.
In addition, no company has disclosed information about swap or asset-backed loan agreements with non-EITI countries.
The RMC states that the contribution of all EITI stakeholders in codifying good practices through the EITI Standard is invaluable in the context of the integrity of the international financial system and the economies and well-being of the peoples of the world. producing countries.
However, the uneven application of requirements and expectations between implementing countries and supporting companies limits its overall impact, the organization says.
The RMC states that the EITI Standard places clear requirements on EITI implementing countries and state-owned enterprises to disclose payments and funding they receive from commercial companies, and that the EITI Standard simply encourages all companies to buy oil, gas and / or minerals from implementing countries. to disclose the details of these transactions and agreements.
Companies can also become official supporters of the EITI on an individual basis, notes the RMF.
For companies that have signed up as EITI Supporting Companies, the EITI Standard includes only non-binding expectations, including the expectation that they disclose payments they make to country governments. ‘EITI and around the world.
However, the RMF study reveals that this non-binding expectation has had a limited impact, to date.
While the four companies disclosing payment data are all EITI supporting companies, the RMF indicates that the other six supporting EITI companies included in the study made no such disclosure.
The political context of efforts to increase transparency in the extractive industries is of critical importance, says RMF.
Other research conducted by the organization has repeatedly shown that when countries enact binding requirements through legislation or regulation, businesses respond better to the problems posed.
Likewise, the RMF asserts that the standardization of good governance of extractive raw materials can be strengthened through the promulgation of national regulations and laws by producer and origin countries, whether or not they are subject to the requirements of implementation of the EITI.
In addition, the organization says companies that enter into financial transactions with governments of producing countries or state-owned enterprises can show leadership by strengthening their public disclosure regarding payments, or loan or swap-backed agreements. resources, as well as other matters covered by the EITI Standard, regardless of the jurisdiction in which they take place.
However, in the absence of mandatory disclosure requirements, the RMF indicates that contractual constraints to full transparency of transaction data may exist in some countries, and that companies should, at the very least, formally commit to engage with the governments of these countries to encourage stricter disclosure of this public interest information.