A new APEC Code of Conduct for Business, to help combat corruption in the region, was announced by Attorney-General Philip Ruddock today.
The Code provides descriptions of various forms of bribery and clear guidance on how to identify corrupt practices. It describes practical steps businesses should take to counter corruption.
"Corruption in the APEC region and beyond has serious and widespread consequences - it limits economic development, it discourages investment and it keeps people living in poverty," Mr Ruddock said.
"Research by the World Bank Institute indicates that each year more than $1 trillion is paid in bribes worldwide. Businesses, particularly small businesses, need guidance when confronted with bribery."
Mr Ruddock said take up of the Code by businesses will mean greater prosperity and economic growth across the Asia-Pacific.
"The Code is one of the outcomes of collaboration between APEC Governments and APEC businesses in 2007," Mr Ruddock said. "By adopting the Code businesses have the power to have a real impact on efforts to eradicate corrupt practices, leading to stronger economies and further trade liberalisation."
The APEC Anti-Corruption and Transparency Experts Task Force plans to assist small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to adopt and implement the Code.
SMEs make up about 99 per cent of enterprises in the regional APEC economy, and their contribution is between 30 per cent and 60 per cent of an economy's gross domestic product. The SME sector is particularly vulnerable to corruption and is a major part of the APEC economy.
"It is important to codify an anti-corruption policy because enterprises are more likely to adopt a Code if presented with a ready-made example," Mr Ruddock said. "An APEC-endorsed code is important so that business is aware this is an APEC initiative and they have APEC support in opposing corruption."
"I am confident the Code will prove to be a valuable contribution to the fight against corruption, both in our region and ultimately in the global economy."
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