Congo (RDC), minerais et entreprises chinoises
À propos de l'article de Michael J. Kavanagh intitulé « Congo Tin Sales Tumble 90 Percent As Companies Avoid ‘Conflict Minerals' »
Bloomberg, 18 mai 2012
After the introduction of the Dodd-Frank legislation in the US in 2010, which requires companies listed in the US to account for the due diligence efforts they have undertaken to ensure that the minerals they use are 'conflict free', a few Chinese mineral trading houses (comptoirs) in Eastern DRC (Goma and Bukavu) were among the few, or the only ones (I can't tell with certainty since I haven't conducted field work in Eastern Congo myself) still trading. All the other companies stopped purchasing for fear of reputational damage. (I discuss this in greater depth in the book chapter I announced to this list sometime back) As far as my desktop-research-using-telephone-interviews is concerned (I have seen no previous published work on this), these trading houses are not run by large-scale SOEs but can rather be placed towards the private company/private entrepreneur/partly or wholly provincial SOE-owned-side of the spectrum.
Whatever their ownership situation, as you can see in the piece from Bloomberg below, two of these Chinese trading houses who trade in tin have just been subject to scrutiny from the Congolese authorities, and they have been required to shut down. It is interesting for a number of reasons - why did it take so long for the Congolese authorities to take action? What does this mean for smaller-scale Chinese companies/entrepreneurs trading minerals in the Congo more generally? As I argue in the aforementioned book chapter, in Katanga province in South-Eastern Congo, I and my research partner Wenran Jiang have observed that there are few, or no, small scale Chinese entrepreneurs left - they have been crowded out by tougher competition, and the Chinese actors in Katanga are now larger private or partly state-owned companies with more long-term plans for their operations in Katanga. Does this move by the Congolese authorities mean that the Chinese players in Goma and Bukavu will also be put out of business? Although this time it would be for legal reasons and not for reasons of competition. It looks like an interesting case of US legislation on conflict minerals reaching Chinese entrepreneurs/smaller companies in Africa.