A Critical Analysis of the SEC and NAM Economic Impact Models and the Proposal of a 3rd Model in view of the Implementation of Section 1502 of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act
Written by Chris Bayer
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) holds vast resources of minerals, and many of the mines are controlled by parties that have perpetrated severe human rights abuses in the region. In an effort to enhance transparency in the minerals supply chain, Section 1502 of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act mandates company disclosure of the mineral origin contained in their products. Pursuant to the charge of formulating specific regulation, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is in the process of drafting rules for this provision. A realistic economic impact estimate is important as the careful consideration of the most salient cost drivers informs the precise formulation of rules, which in turn enables implementation.
This analysis shows that the published figure of $71.2 million by the SEC underestimates the implementation cost, in part because it does not take into account the range of actors affected by the statutory law. In light of Section 1502, substantial traceability reforms would need to be implemented throughout the supply chain – from the mine to final product manufacturing – in order for disclosure to work.
On the other hand, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) estimate of $9-16 billion overstates these costs by inflating the supplier number and not taking into account significant overlap in supplier/customer relationships, as well as cost efficiencies from existing (and developing) information exchange platforms.
This report presents a third model focusing on the burden to the affected issuers and their 1st tier suppliers estimating that the actual cost to and of implementing the law is $7.93 billion. Almost half of the total cost – $3.4 billion – would be met with in-house company personnel time, and the rest – $4.5 billion – would comprise outflows to 3rd parties for consulting, IT systems and audits. Comparing the costs to the issuers vs. the suppliers, the bulk of the total costs – $5.1 billion or 65% – would be incurred by the suppliers (the group not included in SEC‟s analysis), while the smaller portion of the total – $2.8 billion or 35% – would be carried by the issuers.
The implementation costs would however be borne by thousands of individual firms in lucrative industries such as the industrial, aerospace, healthcare, automotive, chemicals, electronics/high tech, retail and jewelry industries. Nevertheless, we regard Section 1502 as a “major” rule as its effect on the economy will exceed $100 million per year.
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