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Lynn Costa is a senior trade development adviser in ITA’s Market Access and Compliance unit.
Corruption is a significant market access barrier for U.S. exporters. According to the World Bank, nearly $1 trillion is lost globally each year to corrupt activities. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) disproportionately bear the costs of corruption because they lack the bargaining power and influence to oppose requests for illegal payments and bribes. It has been estimated by the World Bank that 25 percent of the operating capital of a typical SME exporter is lost to corruption each year. This is a staggering amount that undermines innovation and inhibits company growth, employment, and export capability.
In an effort to put into place programs that will help eliminate corruption in the APEC economies, the Market Access and Compliance unit of the International Trade Administration (ITA) this year launched business ethics projects that focused on three sectors of special interest to SME exporters: medical devices, biopharmaceuticals, and construction. The result was a set of industry-specific ethics principles for business codes of ethics that were presented to the APEC ministers in Honolulu and subsequently endorsed by them. The next step will be the implementation of these business ethics principles over the next several years. This will be done thanks to a funding commitment made by APEC in response to ITA’s efforts in this area.
To read the full text, of the APEC ministers’ statement on open governance and ethical business practices, visit www.apec.org.