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October 16, 2008 

Ensuring Open, Fair Trade is Good Business Globally

The Boston Herald has published an op-ed by Ambassador Christopher F. Egan, the U.S. representative to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) discussing the benefits of the OECD’s Anti-Bribery Convention to U.S. companies.

Ensuring open, fair trade is good business globally

When a U.S. contractor loses a major plant construction job or pipeline project because an international conglomerate bribed an official in the purchasing country, who cracks down on it?

When a foreign company illegally copies and resells a Massachusetts company’s product, who works to prevent it from re-occuring?

The answer, in part, is the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), comprised of 30 market democracies from across the globe devoted to making the world economy work better.

Negotiated 10 years ago, the OECD’s Anti-Bribery Convention makes it a crime to bribe a foreign official, an act that once was tax deductable in some countries. The OECD is also helping member countries deal with illicit global trade in counterfeited and pirated products.

OECD work is vital to the United States because bribery and piracy cost American companies billions of dollars, and that translates to fewer jobs for our citizens.

Massachusetts companies like Genzyme, Biogen, Boston Scientific, Gillette and others reap benefits because OECD conventions serve to protect their products and patents worldwide.

Before accepting the appointment as U.S. ambassador to the OECD in 2007, I was skeptical about the value of U.S. contributions to this global organization. I can now report that the OECD promotes open and fair markets, key to global economic growth and stability.

Global trade now supports some 775,000 jobs in Massachusetts - that’s 19.1 percent of all jobs. Trade through Bay State ports has an annual economic impact of $449 million.

In 2004, more than 10,000 Massachusetts companies sold their products abroad. But this growth is under threat from foreign entities that would cut corners through corruption and graft.

Our companies, and rightly so, are not allowed to participate in such schemes. The OECD is working to make our response to corrupt practices the world standard. This is especially valuable to Massachusetts and its innovation economy.

The OECD grew out of the Marshall Plan and essentially became the economic counterpart to NATO. There are indications the OECD’s fair-play doctrine is catching on, as Israel, Chile, Russia, and other nations seek admission.

More nations committed to open and fair trade, best practices, and protection of intellectual assets and patents will be a vital part of our economic health.




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