The Institute of Directors (IoD) believes the Bribery Act discourages SMEs from exporting, following a new report revealing the disparity between small firms and large companies shipping goods abroad.
In a survey of 38,000 IoD members, 63% of large companies are exporting compared to 55% of SMEs.
Alexander Ehmann, head of regulatory policy at the IoD, believes poor drafting of the Bribery Act, which came into effect in July 2011, has discouraged exporters.
“There is a perception that UK business could be blamed for the actions of suppliers they knew nothing about,” he said.
“Companies should be held accountable for their own behaviour but they cannot be global policeman.”
David Snell, partner at consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, said to The Telegraph: “But what are adequate steps? In reality if this means retraining your workforce, customers and personnel in a joint venture, some SMEs would just rather not export.”
According to the IoD, smaller businesses are ignorant of responsibilities and hold concerns of falling foul of the law while being innocent of corruption themselves.
Guidance states that it is an offence to be associated with a party practising bribery and corruption, unless adequate steps to prevent such activity have already been taken.
The countries that IoD members believe will deliver the most growth, such as Brazil, China and India, also rank highly on the UK Trade and Industry’s corruption index.
However, fines recently meted out by the Chinese government against four western drug firms accused of bribing Chinese doctors show emerging markets stepping up action against bribery and corruption.
The Manufacturer is hosting two events in London on October 16 to assist companies to innovate and increase exports.
Export Connect is the launch event in The Manufacturer magazine’s Accelerated Growth Series, new for 2013. – See more at: www.themanufacturer.com/eventsite/export2013/
The Innovation in Manufacturing conference is part of The Manufacturer’s Future Factory series and will provide delegates with the knowledge and expertise they need to nurture innovation in the workplace and find more efficient ways of developing new, more sophisticated products. – See more at: www.themanufacturer.com/eventsite/innovation2013/