Bottom Line: US Congress is reviewing House and Senate legislation that could see US companies working under the Mexico-TAP exempted from Dodd-Frank Section 1504 SEC disclosures about payments to foreign governments.
Analysis: The Dodd Frank Act Section 1504 requires US companies to disclose payments to foreign governments, subnational governments and the federal government. Opponents of the act, which is pretty much everyone making money on government contracts, say it harms the competitiveness of US companies in the face of foreign companies who are not made to stand up to the same scrutiny. Right now, Congress is reviewing legislation concerning the US-Mexico Hydrocarbon Transboundary Agreement (TBA), and one version of this, courtesy of the House, exempts US companies from these SEC disclosure requirements. The US-Mexico TBA is what will give us the framework for joint production oil and gas with Mexico’s state-run company, Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMEX), which is 100% owned by the state; hence the SEC disclosure requirements. One stickler here is that Mexico’s own foreign laws may prohibit such disclosure. This is the key argument of opponents of disclosure. To wit: companies who are not required to disclosure payments may have the advantage in winning contracts.
Recommendation: We are not confident that this exemption will go through as it is, though a watered down version of it may be passed in order to remove the alleged anti-competitive nature. These laws are, after all, essential for transparency.