U.S. President Donald Trump has promised a bloodbath for regulations. He argues that regulatory overreach hinders commerce and stunts economic growth. Even if that’s true, he likely won’t be able to deliver what he promises by attacking the regulatory edifice alone. That’s because the companies that drive the U.S. economy are multinationals. They will still have to follow regulations elsewhere, which will mute the impact of killing those regulations at home. Indeed, the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act is a good example of how globalization will sap the power of Trump’s plan.
Section 1504 of Dodd-Frank is still formally law, but the regulations needed to implement it were spiked in February. These regulations required oil and gas producers and miners to publicly disclose all payments of more than $100,000 that they make to governments. The point was to curb corruption, because when financial flows are public, it is harder to hide bribes. Companies involved in resource extraction protested when the law was passed and filed lawsuits that have delayed implementation.
In the middle of that battle, governments in other parts of the world decided to adopt the move. Canada, Norway, and the United Kingdom passed similar laws, and the European Union has mandated that its member countries do so. American companies that work there—in the Canadian tar sands or in the North Sea’s oil fields, for example—will still have to make these disclosures. And the laws typically also apply to any company traded on a stock market in that country. At the moment, there are 39 American mining companies and 11 oil and gas producers trading on Canadian stock exchanges.
The laws provided a grace period before reporting begins, so only a handful of global resources titans have made disclosures so far, including Shell, France’s Total, Norway’s Statoil, and Russia’s Gazprom, whose stock trades on the London Stock Exchange. U.S.