Ibero-American business community calls for integrity and the fight against corruption

  • 8 December 2020

ICC’s Ibero-American national committees in 13 countries have joined forces to mark International Anti-Corruption Day, underscoring the importance of the anti-corruption agenda as a key means of promoting social inclusion and economic growth in the region in the context of the current pandemic.

Celebrated on 9 December each year, Anti-Corruption Day aims to raise awareness of corruption and of the role of the 2005 United Nations Convention Against Corruption in combating and preventing it.

ICC national committees of the ICC in Latin America acknowledge the role the current pandemic has played in exacerbating the risks of corruption, bribery, fraud, illegal commerce and money laundering, which affect society and businesses alike and underscore that integrity and transparency are key factors in achieving a response to Covid-19 that is effective, resilient, and sustainable in their respective countries.

According to the World Bank, corruption represents at least US$2.6 trillion annually, equivalent to 5% of global GDP. ICC Ibero-American national representatives highlight Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) statistics that estimate corruption to cost the region US$220 billion a year, an amount analysts say could have eliminated extreme poverty in Latin America. Recent statistics from the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF) also point out that 51% of the population in Latin America consider corruption to have been the main problem affecting the region before the Covid-19 pandemic. This situation may have worsened due to Covid-19-related purchases made using more agile and direct methods, outside of usual controls.

In addition, at the beginning of 2020 Transparency International for the Americas said that Latin America hadn’t seen any improvements in four years, which ICC NCs in the region say shows there is still much work to be done in the fight against corruption.

More than 100 years ago, the International Chamber of Commerce was created in response to the need to restore economic growth through trade and cross-border investment, as a means for keeping peace and fostering prosperity among nations. Today, we are present in over 100 countries worldwide, and through our initiatives we seek to promote sustainable business based on clear rules in order to promote global prosperity.

Representing over 45 million businesses worldwide, ICC continues to promote ethical business practices, providing tools and compliance policies that ensure proper operational performance and integral behaviour of those who collaborate in business-to-business relationships.

In 1977, ICC was the first business institution to issue a framework of rules on Anti-Corruption when it published the ICC Rules of Conduct and Recommendations to Combat Extortion and Bribery. These rules have been continually updated to reflect the adoption of international legal instruments such as the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions and the United Nations Convention against Corruption.

This year, ICC launched the ICC Guidance – Integrity for a resilient response and rebuild after COVID-19 as a supplement to the ICC Business Integrity Compendium as part of a suite of tools aimed at helping businesses increase their integrity standards.

In this context, the group of Ibero-American national committees are calling on governments to adopt mechanisms and public policies that reinforce the integrity of State operations, while bearing in mind that corrupt practices weaken the economy, undermine national competitiveness and drive away foreign investment.

The group also stresses the importance of establishing instruments for public procurement and periodical auditing that promote transparency, efficiency and improved public contracting conditions. In a statement issued at a join media conference, the group said: “Transparency and the fight against corruption should become commonplace, effective and with the ability to foster the healthy development of industries and commerce”

The group called on Ibero-American governments to implement the measures established by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), promoted during the pandemic, to incentivise integrity throughout public contracting processes.

“We, the Ibero-American ICC national committees, value and support all effective measures that promote increased integrity and transparency in trade relations and we are committed to joining our efforts from the private sector in order to actively, assertively, and militantly combat corruption, from the industries and organisations that we represent,” the statement concluded.