Strengthening Anti-Corruption for Sustainable Development

Shanghai, People's Republic of China, 24 April 2006
  • Remarks by Ambassador Tran Trong Toan, Executive Director, APEC Secretariat
Honourable Mr. Li Yufu, Vice Minister of Supervision, P.R. China,
Ms. Debra Wong Yang, United States Attorney,
Ambassador Wang Xuexian, Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
Mr. Feng Guoqin, Deputy Mayor, Shanghai Municipal Government
Mr. Wang Yongjun, Director General, Ministry of Supervision
On behalf of the APEC Secretariat, I would like to congratulate the Governments of the People's Republic of China and the United States for successfully launching the ACT Workshop on Denial of Safe Haven, Asset Recovery and Extradition.
Two months ago, the APEC Senior Officials Meeting that was held in Hanoi reaffirmed anti-corruption as one of APEC's priorities throughout Viet Nam APEC Year of 2006. This workshop in Shanghai will definitely contribute to the progress of APEC's fight against corruption.
Anti-Corruption: Its relevance and APEC commitment
Over the past 16 years since its inception, APEC has worked hard to sustain robust economic growth through trade and investment liberalization and facilitation (TILF) as well as economic and technical cooperation (ECOTECH). In the process of economic cooperation and development, APEC has realized that while member economies have reaped considerable benefits from reduction of tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade, corruption has increasingly become a huge obstacle to trade and investment. Corruption has the potential to exert a detrimental impact on the business environment and overall economic growth. Dealing with corruption and its devastating consequences, is therefore very important and highly relevant to the APEC's goals of sustainable socio-economic development and prosperity.
Recognizing the importance and relevance of this issue to its goals, APEC has committed at the highest level to deal with corruption. In 2003, APEC Leaders declared corruption "a major obstacle to social and economic development." Leaders instructed officials to step up the fight against corruption by developing specific domestic anti-corruption actions. Leaders also called for the promotion of transparency by implementing general and area-specific transparency standards through a Transparency Strategy by 2005.
In 2004, APEC Leaders further instructed officials to promote good governance in the APEC region and deemed corruption a serious threat to good governance and investment. As such fighting corruption is essential for the socio-economic development and well-being of our people. At the 2004 meeting APEC Leaders endorsed the Santiago Commitment to Fight Corruption and Ensure Transparency. Leaders have also attached great importance to implementing the principles of the UN Convention against Corruption as it has a positive impact on advancing their commitment towards a cleaner and more honest and transparent community in the Asia-Pacific region.
From Commitment to Action
Based on the Santiago Commitment to Fight Corruption and Ensure Transparency, in 2004 Leaders also endorsed the APEC Course of Action on Fighting Corruption and Ensuring Transparency. The APEC antiā€‘corruption initiative From Santiago to Seoul was then launched to further advance activities in this area.
In 2005, APEC Foreign and Trade Ministers reaffirmed that they would continue to look for avenues to effectively address the corruption issues within APEC. In this regard, the APEC Anti-Corruption and Transparency (ACT) Task Force has undertaken important work. In September 2005, the APEC Anti-Corruption and Transparency Symposium (ACT Symposium), which was held in Seoul, came up with important recommendations on greater action to combat corruption and to improve transparency.
APEC fora have also actively participated in the anti-corruption battle. From 2005 the Committee of Trade and Investment (CTI) has formally included "anti-corruption" on its agenda. Even before 2005 though, the very concept of anti-corruption was already linked to its long-standing work on transparency. Over many years, CTI and its sub-fora have undertaken activities that help economies to increase transparency as a means to fight corruption. Indeed, sub-fora such as the Sub-Committee on Customs Procedures, the Informal Expert Group on Business Mobility, and Government Procurement Expert Group have been actively dealing with corruption by developing work plans in areas such as "integrity" and "professional service standards."
During the APEC CEO Summit in 2005, Chief Executive Officers signed the ABAC Anti-corruption pledge and gave their support to collaboration between the APEC ACT Task Force and ABAC to address the anti-corruption issue. The business sector also called for synergistic collaboration with the ACT Task Force to improve corporate governance and to seek to strengthen the public-private partnership on anti-corruption in both public and private sectors. APEC Ministers also instructed officials to intensify regional cooperation to deny a safe haven to officials and individuals guilty of corruption, and encouraged greater cooperation in the areas of mutual legal assistance where appropriate, extradition, the forfeiture of the proceeds of corruption and asset recovery.
Initial but Important Achievements
Overall, APEC has succeeded in creating region-wide public awareness on the detrimental consequences of corruption and the necessity to combat it. There is a common and strong sense that corruption seriously undermines economic performance, weakens democratic institutions and the rule of law, disrupts social order, destroys public trust and provides a fertile ground for organized crime, terrorism and other threats to human security. APEC's goals of economic development and prosperity could not be achieved unless corruption is effectively dealt with.
There has been substantial improvement in lawmaking and enforcement processes in APEC member economies. This process has become more and more transparent. Economic laws and policies have become increasingly open and predictable, and regulations and procedures have been further simplified and harmonized to facilitate freer flows of trade and investment. All this has, to a large extent, helped reduce corruption and power abuses in both the public and private sectors.
An APEC-wide cooperation network, including a public-private partnership, in anti-corruption activities has been created. Having realized the importance of the anti-corruption fight, APEC member economies have agreed to cooperate closely and effectively for this purpose. Based primarily on their domestic laws and regulations to combat corruption, member economies have in many cases successfully coordinated their efforts to deal with corruption and abuses.
Denial of Save Haven, Asset Recovery and Extradition - an Effective Way to deal with Corruption
In 2005, APEC Leaders agreed to intensify regional cooperation to deny a safe haven to officials and individuals guilty of corruption, those who corrupt them and their unlawfully-acquired assets, and to prosecute those engaged in bribery, including in international business transactions. In view of the increasingly globalized world economy and freer movement of peoples all over the world, close international cooperation is a very important measure to cope with corruption. This is especially important in attempts to deny save haven and conduct extradition of those who are found guilty of corruption, both corrupting and corrupted, and recover the unlawfully acquired assets to their places of origin. This is still a new area of cooperation in APEC and this Workshop on the Denial of Safe Haven,
Asset Recovery and Extradition is very timely and significant.
Anti-corruption is a long-term and complex struggle. It needs comprehensive and consistent efforts to address this issue. Domestic law and enforcement must be effectively strengthened. Policies, regulations and procedures must be transparent and predictable. The wider public and media communities must be involved and encouraged to denounce corruption. International cooperation must be enhanced for the denial of save haven, extradition and asset recovery and criminals must be severely punished. In general, this is a comprehensive, decisive and long-term struggle intended to uproot corruption and eliminate any room for its emergence and existence. APEC member economies have a great stake in the success of this struggle if their goals for sustainable socio-economic development and prosperity are to be achieved. The workshop today on Denial of Safe Haven, Asset Recovery and Extradition is an important step forward to strengthen APEC cooperation in this cause. I wish the Workshop a great success.
Thank you.