Good morning, everyone.
Thank you for joining us here in San Francisco for the Third APEC Senior Officials Meeting (SOM 3) of the year and the 13th APEC Anti-Corruption & Transparency Experts Working Group (ACT) meeting. The United States is honored to be the Chair of the ACT this year, and I extend a warm welcome to all the delegates and international-organization-representatives here this week.
The ACT has been instrumental in carrying-out the mandate from our leaders to strengthen efforts to combat corruption and illicit trade and improve governance, and the U.S. is committed to building on the ACT’s achievements to date to further our collective interests in ensuring free, open, transparent and prosperous economies. As recognized by our leaders, corruption is a serious threat to greater prosperity and development in the Asia-Pacific region and demands our ongoing commitment, cooperation, and creativity.
I would like to begin this meeting by quickly reviewing what we accomplished in SOM 1 in March 2011 in Washington, D.C., then share some thoughts on where we are going and what we hope to accomplish in the coming months in advance of the APEC Leaders Summit that will be held in Hawaii, November 8-13, 2011.
Accomplishments from SOM 1
First, as evident in the ACT’s new name, the Steering Committee on Economic and Technical Cooperation approved our proposal to upgrade the ACT from a task force to a working group during SOM 1. As a result, the ACT is now institutionalized as a permanent body within APEC.
I would like to thank all ACT members and their senior officials for their support in realizing this important APEC milestone. This achievement enables us to make and implement longer-term action plans that more effectively confront the pervasive, long-term nature of corruption and ensure cleaner, more open governments and enhanced integrity in markets and supply chains.
The ACT also continued to enhance our partnerships with other APEC sub-fora during SOM 1 by hosting a dialogue on counterfeit medicines, addressing corruption and supply chain integrity in a sector that dramatically affects the health and welfare of citizens in the Asia-Pacific region. Our ongoing partnerships with ABAC, IPEG, and other APEC sub-fora will help us to ensure better cross-disciplinary and inter-regional cooperation among experts, as well as to ensure that ACT activities are more fully aligned and integrated with APEC’s core mission, including the strengthening of regional economic integration and lasting benefits for are all of our people.
The ACT also appreciates our growing partnership and synergies with our international organizations, including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the International Anticorruption Academy (IACA), the Organization of American States (OAS), INTERPOL, Transparency International (TI), and others.
In addition, the ACT adopted an ambitious 2011 work plan, as well as a five-year strategy that includes the Yokohama Leaders’ commitment for each economy to report on its implementation of APEC anti-corruption commitments. We will be adopting the reporting template this week and begin our comprehensive reporting on the various APEC anticorruption commitments and actions in 2012 and 2013.
We can all be proud of what the ACT has accomplished to date, and I commend each of my colleagues within the ACT for your hard work and commitment to make anticorruption efforts a priority within APEC and to promote transparency and accountability within your respective economies.
Combating Corruption and Illicit Enrichment: Clean and Open Governments
Now, as everyone in this room is well aware, corruption and bribery impede economic growth, trade and investment; compromise markets and supply chain integrity; weaken the entrepreneurial spirit; and also erode citizens’ trust in one another and in their government. In the absence of transparency, corruption indeed flourishes.
Collective action—on the part of governments, the private sector, and civil society—is necessary to secure greater accountability, competitiveness, and supply chain integrity. As reflected in our 2011 ACT workplan, we must employ the full range of tools in the toolbox—ranging from tools to prevent corruption and enhance market integrity to tools to more effectively investigate and prosecute corruption and combat money laundering and illicit trade.
On the front-end, preventive measures and integrity systems are crucial in the fight against corruption. Financial/asset disclosure is an anti-corruption and transparency tool that encourages officials to perform their duties in accordance with public interest as opposed to self-interest and helps public officials, potential candidates, and political appointees recognize and protect against conflicts of interest. Disclosure systems also help investigators and prosecutors identify and corroborate illicit enrichment, providing greater accountability and building public trust.
The ACT workshop on Effective Financial/Asset Disclosure for Public Servants later this week will go into further depth on the use of disclosure systems as a preventive tool as well as a tool in conducting investigations and prosecutions. Furthermore, we plan to build upon the APEC Conduct Principles for Public Officials that were adopted in Australia in 2007 to develop draft principles regarding financial/asset disclosure and strengthen our efforts in APEC on combating corruption and illicit enrichment.
Combating Bribery: Public-Private Partnerships on Market Integrity
In addition to addressing corruption in the public sector, we have recognized that partnering with the private sector to confront corruption and bribery in international business, as well as in the way governments grant licenses and permits, is essential.
Governments alone cannot root-out corrupt practices that undermine free and fair competition and taint global markets and supply chains. Communities of vigilance composed of governments, industry, and civil society organizations are needed to promote greater integrity in business transactions and supply chains. In light of this, we will continue to partner with ABAC—the APEC Business Advisory Committee—and will be co-sponsoring a dialogue with ABAC tomorrow on Ensuring Greater Integrity in APEC Economies, Markets, and Supply Chains.
We will also delve further into shaping an ACT-ABAC public-private partnership to combat corruption in the Asia-Pacific region. I encourage everyone to participate in this dialogue and the other workshops over the next couple days.
Combating Corruption and Illicit Trade: Supply Chain Integrity
Finally, in taking a comprehensive and holistic approach to combating corruption and illicit trade, we must confront criminal entrepreneurs and illicit market actors that navigate between licit and illicit worlds, tainting supply chains and compromising the integrity of our markets and institutions. As we discussed in our dialogue on Combating Counterfeit (Falsified) Medicines and Strengthening Supply Chain Integrity during SOM 1, illicit trade in counterfeit or falsified medicines, medical products, and other dangerous, defective products is an especially grave threat as such products threaten the health and safety of our people.
Tainted supply chains, compromised markets, and the corruption that accompanies illicit trade also hurt our legitimate businesses, diminishing brand identities, reputations, and returns on research and innovation, while increasing operating costs and investment risks.
Working together in APEC, we must thus continue to investigate and prosecute the illicit actors who produce and sell harmful counterfeits, and simultaneously strengthen the integrity of our supply chains, as well as our global financial system. The APEC workshop on Investigating and Prosecuting Corruption and Illicit Trade: Stemming the Flows of Counterfeits and Dismantling Illicit Networks later this week will allow us to delve further into this issue and explore law enforcement tools that can equip us to mitigate vulnerabilities, dismantle transnational illicit networks, and strengthen our markets.
The ACT looks forward to leveraging our expertise across APEC to help ensure that we dismantle illicit networks at every link in tainted supply chains and prosecute criminal entrepreneurs who arbitrage weak and corrupt law enforcement systems and exploit internal border controls for illicit gain and enrichment.
2011 Deliverables: Open and Cleaner Governments and Enhanced Integrity in Markets and Supply Chains
As we proceed with our work this week and look towards the ministerial meetings in Hawaii this November, the ACT is on track to provide our leaders with robust deliverables, possibly including principles related to financial/asset disclosure; the launching of an ACT-ABAC public-private partnership to combat corruption and illicit trade (ensuring integrity in institutions, markets, and supply chains); and a timeline for economies to report on how they are implementing their anticorruption commitments.
I look forward to your interventions and an exchange of ideas and best practices throughout our time together and to ensure that our ACT deliverables in 2011 contribute to inclusive growth and greater integrity and prosperity for all economies, and nurture a better future for all of our people.