First of all, thank you for the opportunity to have this discussion today.
Corruption is a catastrophe for everyone, and while it is a serious impediment to economic growth, it has the greatest impact on the poorest countries. However, good governance and effective efforts to combat corruption can lift the most disadvantaged of poverty and help countries realize their economic potential.
OSCE recognizes that good governance is fundamental to political stability and security. This improves economic benefits and accelerates economic transformation, including creating an attractive business environment. Conversely, according to the World Economic Forum, corruption increases the cost of doing business by an average of 10%.
In order for the UK to advance our position as an independent trading nation and to allow businesses to compete fairly, we have included new additional text addressing anti-corruption in our trade agreements with our Asian partners Japan and Australia. For example, the UK-Japan Agreement strengthens anti-corruption and anti-bribery obligations and confirms compliance with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Convention on Anti-Bribery and the United Nations Convention Against Corruption.
The UK is seizing every opportunity to eradicate corruption and corrupt practices, including the G7 president. At the G7 Summit last month, G7 member countries, together with South Korea, Australia and other countries, pledged to prevent and eradicate corruption and illicit money flows and promote integrity, transparency and accountability through the Leaders Open Societies Statement. I did.
But this isn’t just about faceless companies or shady organizations. States can also take action against corrupt individuals. In April the UK launched a new global anti-corruption sanctions regime that designates individuals or organizations broadly involved in corruption, including laundering, facilitation, financial gain or other interests. The regime also allows sanctions against facilitators as well as actors of corruption. And we announced our second designation earlier today.
The UK is committed to continuing to support our Asian partners’ efforts to combat corruption. In Afghanistan, we have strongly supported the Afghan government’s efforts to combat corruption, for example, by strengthening the capacity of the judiciary and law enforcement agencies. And in Thailand, UNODC was able to educate 1,300 officials on the importance of financial investigations related to wildlife and forest crimes.
To strengthen security and stability, the OSCE promotes international cooperation on economic issues, strengthens good governance and assists participating countries in combating corruption. Our engagement with OSCE Asian Partners for Cooperation represents the interconnection between European and global security. Through ongoing dialogue and joint action with Asian partners, OSCE can become a forum for sharing expertise and providing insight into relevant developments outside the OSCE region. We welcome such cooperation and continue to promise.
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