The All Party Parliamentary Group on Anti-Corruption (APPG) has released its report ‘Reaching Export 2020 with Integrity’ (Report), today 9 December 2016, International Anti-Corruption Day.
The Report concludes the APPG’s inquiry into how UK government departments could better support UK businesses to deal with the risks of bribery and corruption in high-growth markets. The Report has been sent to departments across government and to UK business groups.
Nigel Mills MP, co-Chair of the APPG said:
“This Report is intended to help make the UK’s anti-corruption regime as robust and pragmatic as possible and ensure a coherent strategy is applied across the UK government.”
Catherine McKinnell , co-Chair of the APPG added:
“It is important that all businesses follow, and are enabled to follow, the requirements of the Bribery Act 2010, especially when dealing in riskier markets corruption-wise.”
The UK has the chance to demonstrate why it should remain a key global business and financial hub because it supports ethical and socially responsible business and sanctions companies which seek to play the rules. The APPG is especially concerned to see that there is a level playing field between SMEs and large or multinational companies. The UK also has the chance to engage with SMEs in high growth markets and support international development and encourage Collective Action on Anti-Corruption, among fellow governments, overseas businesses and civil society.
The APPG on Anti-Corruption champions all efforts to counter corruption at home and overseas and sees the Bribery Act 2010 and its guidance as a cornerstone of the UK’s anti-corruption infrastructure. The APPG is concerned to see that UK businesses are supported to export cleanly and with integrity – in line with Bribery Act 2010 – because it is both the right thing to do and commercially beneficial. The Report recommends and highlights that:
- All UK businesses looking to export to markets where there is a high risk of bribery and corruption would benefit from the improved coordination and publication of existing government guidance. The current guidance could also be better framed specifically to match exporters’ needs.
- Guidance for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK, in particular, needs to be better tailored to their particular contexts and needs as exporters. It also needs to be more accessible, more strategically coherent and better integrated to provide a single comprehensive body of guidance. In addition to improved access to existing guidance, SMEs could benefit from due diligence support.
- Networks of anti-corruption expertise and formal information sharing should be created through Collective Action between businesses, especially SMEs, NGOs, the UK government and other governments in various export markets.
- Funding for law enforcement needs to be secured to ensure prosecutions continue to act as a deterrent to corrupt behaviour.
- A register of companies debarred from public procurement tenders would be an ambitious innovation in the next Anti-Corruption Action Plan.
- Publishing a timeline for the implementation of public registers of beneficial ownership in the Overseas Territories would secure the government’s commitment to transparency. This would benefit UK businesses in dealings with third parties and due diligence generally.
By 2020 the UK government aims to have exported £1tn of goods and services overseas. To achieve this fast-approaching target UK Trade and Investment has stated that it is ‘imperative that we connect British firms to high growth markets in Asia, South America and Africa to realise the potential there’.
In November 2015, the Treasury announced the creation of a Prosperity Fund. Managed by the National Security Council, this cross-governmental initiative will designate £1.3bn over the next five years to promote economic development in developing and emerging markets. In addition to its priorities of improving the business climate, competitiveness and operation of markets, the Prosperity Fund will aim to increase the ability of governments to tackle corruption.
The APPG hopes this Report may provide some insight and suggestions as to how government anti-corruption support should not only be maintained but improved. The APPG calls on the UK government to continue funding anti-corruption projects and enhance funding for law enforcement centred on prosecutions for bribery and corruption.
 ‘2020 Export Drive’, UK Trade and Investment (19 December 2014) https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/2020-export-drive/2020-export-drive