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Reducing the Export of Corruption

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Practice Advice on Ethics and Accountability

Reducing the Export of Corruption (Transparency International)

Summary Advice: Transparency International recommends compliance with the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in  International Business Transactions, adopted in 1997, requires each signatory country to make foreign bribery a  crime. The Convention is a key instrument for curbing the export of corruption globally because the 39 signatory  countries are responsible for two-thirds of world exports and three-quarters of foreign investment. The following are recommedations on how to improve parties’ implementation of the Convention’s provisions

Main Points:

Strengthening government support

The Convention enjoyed widespread government support in its early years, as shown by the speed with which all the parties adopted and ratifi ed the Convention. Combating foreign bribery had a high place on the political agenda of the parties. At a time when most OECD countries are beset by the global recession, it has become more diffi cult to get political leaders to provide strong support to combating foreign bribery. Two issues must be addressed:

  • Resisting business pressure to relax enforcement - Government leaders must reject arguments that winning foreign orders during the recession justifies condoning foreign bribery. Such arguments are dangerously short-sighted and are incompatible with the long-term interests of the business community. Responsible business leaders know that bribe payments cannot be turned on and off. Once a company bribes a foreign offi cial it can no longer maintain the position that it does not pay bribes and sets itself up for continuing extortion. The same concerns apply on a governmental level. Once a government condones bribery by its companies, it loses the ability to persuade other governments to hold the line. The result will be a competitive race to the bottom. The progress made since the Convention was adopted will be lost. It would be practically impossible to start over after the recession and revive the Convention.
  • Providing adequate funding for enforcement - Effective enforcement requires adequate human and fi nancial resources. Such funding will be under pressure during a recession. There are strong reasons for maintaining adequate funding. First, foreign bribery investigations and prosecutions require specialised experience that is diffi cult to acquire. Many governments are only slowly building such expertise. It would be a serious setback to cut back in response to austerity pressure because such  individuals are in high demand by law fi rms, companies and international organisations. They are unlikely to returnto government service. Second, enforcement staff numbers are modest and any savings made by cutting them would be very small.

Active engagement for foreign bribery enforcement

To raise the level of political support in countries with inadequate enforcement will require that the efforts of the Working Group on Bribery be reinforced by the active intervention of the OECD’s Secretary General and the Executive Council.

Increasing adherence to the Convention

OECD should continue its efforts to secure adherence to the Convention by other important exporting states, such as China and India. The G20 has repeatedly recommended that all G20 parties should adhere to the OECD Convention. Of the G20 members, the following four are not party to the Convention: China, India, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia. Adherence by these countries is important because of their growing role in international business.

Source: TI (2012) "Exporting Corruption? Country Enforcement of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention Progress Report 2012" Transparency International (accessed 1 June 2013).

Page Created By: Matthew Seddon on 1 June 2013. The content presented on this page is drawn directly from the source(s) cited above, and consists of direct quotations or close paraphrases. This material does not necessarily reflect the official view of the publishing organization.

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