World Economy

Top Exporters Fail to Punish Bribery

 Top Exporters Fail  to Punish Bribery
 Top Exporters Fail  to Punish Bribery

About two dozen countries accounting for almost half of global exports impose “little or no enforcement” of foreign bribery laws, Transparency International reports. The world’s top exporter received particular criticism.

Countries that account for nearly 40% of global exports fail to enforce laws and conventions against bribery, anti-corruption group Transparency International said in report on Wednesday, DW reported. 

The Berlin-based watchdog assessed enforcement of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Anti-Bribery Convention, which commits signatories to criminalize bribery of foreign officials.  

 Key Findings

The report focused on 44 countries that account for 65% of world exports and found:

- 22 countries accounting for about 40% of global exports had “little or no enforcement” to deter foreign bribery.

- Some of the worst enforcers were Mexico, Finland, Japan, South Korea, Turkey and Russia, as well as non-signatories to the OECD convention, China and India.

- Six countries accounting for 27% of global exports were deemed “active” enforcers of anti-bribery laws. The US, Germany, Britain, Switzerland, Norway and Italy received this highest rating. 

- Australia, Brazil, Portugal and Sweden were the four countries that had “moderate enforcement”.

Eleven countries accounting for 12.3% of global exports had “limited enforcement.”

 China Singled Out

China accounts for 10.8% of global exports, but was at the lowest level of enforcing foreign anti-bribery commitments. The authors of the report said that as the world’s largest exporter China had a “special responsibility”.

“China’s performance regarding international anti-corruption standards influences attitudes and behavior in other major exporting countries,” the report stated. 

China, India, Singapore and Hong Kong are not parties to the OECD convention, but have signed the UN Convention on Corruption.

 Corrosive Effect

“It is unacceptable that so much of world trade is susceptible to consequence-free corruption,” said Delia Ferreira Rubio, chair of Transparency International. “Governments have promised to implement and enforce laws against bribing foreign officials under the OECD and UN conventions. 

“Yet many are not even investigating major cases of grand corruption, which involve state-owned enterprises and senior politicians. These have an especially corrosive effect, and ultimately impact the ordinary citizens of the country the hardest.”  

 Majority of Countries Corrupt

Transparency International has found that a majority of countries in the world can be called corrupt, with a clear link between high levels of corruption and little protection of the media and civil society groups.

The global corruption watchdog’s annual Corruption Perceptions Index released on Wednesday says that most governments around the world are moving too slowly to curb graft and bribery despite headway in some countries compared with previous years.

Transparency International’s report ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption according to experts and businesspeople. It uses a scale of zero to 100, where zero is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean.

This year, the CPI found that more than two thirds of countries score below 50, with an average score of 43.

Among those countries which significantly improved their CPI score over the past couple of years were Ivory Coast, Senegal and Britain.

In figures broken down according to world regions, Western Europe performed best with an average score of 66. Sub-Saharan Africa (32), Eastern Europe (34) and Central Asia (34) were those lagging farthest behind.

“Even more alarming, the index results indicates that countries with the lowest protections for press and non-governmental organizations also tend to have the worst rates of corruption,” the CPI report said.

 One Journalist Killed Every Week

For the first time, Transparency International examined the relationship between corruption levels and the degree of freedom enjoyed by media and civil society groups. It found that almost all journalists killed since 2012 were killed in corrupt countries.

Based on data from the Committee to Protect Journalists, the findings show that more than 9 out of 10 journalists were killed in countries that scored 45 or less on the CPI. This means that, on average, every week at least one journalist is killed in a country that is highly corrupt.

In addition, one in five journalists that died was covering a story about corruption. “Given current crackdowns on both civil society and the media worldwide, we need to do more to protect those who speak up,” said Patricia Moreira, TI’s managing director, adding that justice had never been served in the majority of these cases.

The report names Brazil as an example—a country which scores only 37 on this year’s CPI. There 20 journalists died in the last six years after being targeted for their investigations into local government corruption and drug-related crimes.

 Civil Society Under Siege

It was not only the media who had been in the focus of those fostering corruption, TI said, but civil society organizations, too. Incorporating information from the World Justice Project, TI’s analysis shows that most countries that score low for civil liberties also tend to score high for corruption.

“Smear campaigns, harassment, lawsuits and bureaucratic red tape are all tools used by certain governments in an effort to quiet those who drive anti-corruption efforts,” said Moreira.

Therefore, TI is calling on all governments that “hide behind restrictive laws” to roll them back immediately and allow for greater civic participation.

TI Chairwoman Delia Ferreira Rubio said weak rule of law, lack of access to information, governmental control over social media and reduced citizen participation were directly linked to high levels of corruption, risking “the very essence of democracy and freedom.”


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