Low marks for emerging exporters in bribery poll

BERLIN (Reuters) – Companies from emerging export powers India, China and Russia, as well as EU hopeful Turkey, are among the most likely to bribe when doing business abroad, a new survey from Transparency International (TI) shows. The 2006 Bribe Payers Index (BPI), based on responses of more than 11,000 business people in 125 countries, shows India, China and Russia – who together account for nearly 9 percent of global exports – at the very bottom of a list of 30 countries rated for their propensity to bribe abroad. «In the case of China and other emerging export powers, efforts to strengthen domestic anti-corruption activities have failed to extend abroad,» corruption watchdog TI said. Turkey, which began talks to join the 25-nation EU one year ago, ranked just above India, China and Russia, raising what TI said were «troubling questions» about its commitment to the OECD’s anti-bribery convention, which entered into force in Turkey in 2003. «Turkey’s application to join the EU is being developed over the next few years and during those years this is one of a number of areas which will be very important for Turkey to tackle,» TI Chief Executive David Nussbaum told Reuters. “They have ratified the OECD corruption convention but they need to look carefully at enforcement and also education,» Nussbaum said in an interview. Brussels has warned Ankara that it must speed up reforms and open its ports to shipping from EU member Cyprus if its bid is to have a chance. Nussbaum said the survey underscored that overseas bribery by companies from the world’s export giants is still common despite the existence of international anti-bribery laws criminalizing such practices. Such bribery is undermining efforts by developing nations to improve governance and crack down on corruption, he said, driving a vicious circle of poverty. Italy and France Although India, China, Russia and Turkey were the worst offenders in the survey, TI also singled out Italy and France. The two countries, which ranked 20th and 15th respectively, were in the bottom six of the overall list when responses from Africa were isolated. «If you look at how respondents in Africa and lower-income countries responded, sometimes the companies from wealthier countries seem to be bribing virtually as much,» said Nussbaum. «Italy comes out as a country which has significant work to do to get itself to a position where it is alongside other members of the EU,» he added. Switzerland, Sweden and Australia came out with the best scores in the survey, with Britain ranking sixth and the United States ninth. The Berlin-based watchdog offered several recommendations for combating bribery overseas, urging OECD countries to step up enforcement of the body’s anti-bribery convention.