Preparing positions in Berne

Constituency meetings and a discussion on transparency in commodity trading take place before 30th Board meeting.

The constituencies that collectively govern the EITI - civil society, implementing countries, supporting countries and supporting companies - held meetings on Tuesday in preparation for the EITI Board meeting that starts on Wednesday. In parallel, a public meeting on commodity trading explored the way forward for increasing transparency in the trade Swiss companies are known for.

A common voice for implementing countries

Representatives from implementing countries met in larger numbers than usually to agree positions on key issues on the Board meeting agenda. Board members Didier Agbémadon (Togo), Abdoul Aziz Askia (Niger), Gbehzongar Milton Findley (Liberia) and Shahmar Movsumov (Azerbaijan) were joined by 12 National Coordinators from EITI countries to address strategic and governance issues such as representation on the Board, suggested refinements to the EITI Standard, beneficial ownership and Validation.

Implementing country representatives discussed the need to strengthen their common voice by increasing coordination. They are preparing, as other constituencies, to nominate members for a new EITI Board which will be appointed in Lima in February in connection with the 2016 Global Conference.

Appreciating the spectrum of realities

The group from implementing countries called for Validation to recognise progress in improving natural resource governance, especially in situations where it has not been possible to fully meet EITI Requirements. Dorina Cinari, Albania EITI National Coordinator, said: “Validation should capture the colours. It’s not black and white”. EITI Board member and Niger EITI’s National Coordinator Abdoul Aziz Askia added: “We need to find a fair balance between the EITI Standard and the realities in implementing countries”. The Board is set to discuss options for improving the Validation mechanism on Wednesday.

Opening up commodity trading

“The EITI is not a panacea, but it is certainly a part of the solution” Jonas Moberg, Head of EITI Secretariat, told the conference on transparency in commodity trading. The meeting brought together representatives of implementing countries, Swiss-based commodity trading firms, international oil companies and civil society.

With commodity trading accounting 4% of Swiss GDP according to the Swiss Trading and Shipping Association, Switzerland is one of the world’s key trading centres. Yet some two thirds of commodities trading is with countries with weak governance frameworks, according to Ambassador Raymund Furrer, the State Secretary of Switzerland’s Economic Cooperation and Development Division who opened the conference.

The meeting discussed the implementation of the EITI Standard’s requirements covering sales of state-owned enterprises’ (SOEs) sales of their in-kind revenues (requirement 4.1.c). With a broad recognition that transparency is increasingly a global norm, the issue of extending openness to the first sale of commodities by SOEs to trading firms was broadly welcomed by all participants including representatives from the STSA and trading firms like Trafigura.

Trafigura noted that the EITI was the only forum – and indeed the only multi-stakeholder instrument – for constructive engagement on the issue of transparency. “When EITI started it seemed like an oddity; it is now backed by the entire extractive industries. We expect the same will be the case for trading,” Andrew Gowers, Global Head of Corporate Affairs at Trafigura, told the gathering. “When you see such a trend, as a commodity trader it is always a good idea to get ahead of it.”

The meeting resulted in broad agreement to continue this multi-stakeholder discussion, and to provide guidance to countries implementing the EITI Standard’s requirement 4.1.c.

 

Country Manager Alex Gordy contributed to reporting on the commodity trading meeting.