With the elimination of the Cardin-Lugar amendment —an act which made oil, gas and mining companies listed on U.S. stock exchange reveal all of their transactions with foreign companies—the Trump administration has landed a hard slap across the face of Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.
The E.I.T.I. is a remarkable global group, a very important tool for fighting corruption, especially among countries whose economies depend on natural resources. The leaders of these countries are usually autocrats who go into leadership with the selfish reason of filling their pockets. This type of corruption is one commonly known as “resource curse”. The connection between terrorism and these resource-rich parts of the world is not uncommon.
E.I.T.I is taking an important step towards channeling this wealth towards important projects rather than projects fueled by hate, resentment and selfish inclinations. It requires information from oil and gas companies on its transactions with governments of oil-rich countries.
The E.I.T.I was created in 2002 by Tony Blair, the then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and some other world leaders together with activists and scholars. It has its headquarters in Norway—an oil-rich country which has spared itself of the “resource curse”—headed by the former Prime Minister of Sweden with a board of political leaders, civil society advocates and executives of oil, gas and mining companies.
Together, these people, with their many differences worked hard to come up with a new global standard for transparency. Fifty-one countries under E.I.T.I promised to report money received from the extractive industries and how they spend it. Companies in these countries would also reveal what they paid, allowing for a much-needed transparency.
The E.I.T.I. has helped in the reform in the Democratic Republic of Congo and is a major tool against corruption in Ghana. Although the impact in other countries like Nigeria and Azerbaijan (very corrupt countries which were once seen as the agreement’s greatest success stories) are not impressive, the importance of the agreement cannot be overemphasized.
So it has come as a bit of a surprise that America which had joined the group with U.K, Canada, Denmark and Sweden as models for others seem to have pulled out of the group.