A French Cure for the Resource Curse

French President Nicolas Sarkozy should be applauded for supporting a new initiative promoting strict transparency standards for petroleum, gas, and mining companies listed on European stock exchanges. France, at the heart of the EU and President of both the G-8 and G-20 this year, is in a strong position to encourage such a regulatory move.

NEW YORK – The campaign to ensure that companies engaged in extractive activities disclose all of their payments in their host countries is gaining momentum – and France is leading the effort. President Nicolas Sarkozy should be applauded for supporting a new initiative promoting strict transparency standards for petroleum, gas, and mining companies listed on European stock exchanges.

France, at the heart of the European Union and President of both the G-8 and G-20 this year, is in an exceptional position to encourage such a regulatory move. With French leadership, 2011 offers a golden opportunity for the most important capital markets to adopt clear, precise rules requiring full financial disclosure by extractive-industry companies to governmental authorities.

Oil, gas, and mining generate billions of dollars per year for governments and companies. Moreover, these industries often play a central role in the economic development of resource-rich countries. Yet, despite great natural wealth, a majority of people in these countries lives in poverty.

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