At the APEC Pathfinder Dialogue in Bangkok, Thailand from September 23-25, U.S. Senior Official for APEC Dr. Robert Wang addressed one of the largest gatherings to date in Asia focused on corruption and illicit trade, where he urged greater transparency, good governance, and strong anti-corruption measures to further economic growth, trade, and investment. Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok Patrick Murphy, Thailand’s National Anti-Corruption Commissioner Professor Pakdee Pothisiri, and Attorney General of the Union of Myanmar Dr. Tun Shin also provided opening remarks. Participants included over 175 anti-corruption investigators, law enforcement officials, and policymakers from over 20 APEC, ASEAN, and Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) economies, as well as representatives from international organizations, civil society organizations, and the private sector.
According to the World Economic Forum, illicit trade may account for an estimated 15-20 percent of global trade annually, and over the past several years, APEC leaders have recognized that corruption fuels and facilitates illicit trade flows. The Pathfinder Dialogue focused on the links between corruption and three types of illicit trade: trafficking in persons (TIP), wildlife trafficking/environmental crime, and money laundering.
Participants discussed global and regional transnational crime trends, as well as lessons learned from case studies. Participants also examined strategies to dismantle illicit networks that engage in human trafficking, wildlife trafficking/environmental crime, and money laundering. In addition, the Dialogue emphasized the need for partnerships to combat corruption and illicit trade, including through the sharing of information and best practices, as well as the development of mechanisms for strengthening cooperation between anti-corruption and law enforcement authorities.
The Dialogue was organized by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs and the American Bar Association, in partnership with the National Anti-Corruption Commission of Thailand and with support from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The event was held under the auspices of the APEC Anti-Corruption & Transparency Working Group’s (ACT) vision to combat corruption and illicit trade in the Asia-Pacific region.
Outcomes of the Dialogue will include support for the development of draft Principles to Prevent and Combat TIP-related Corruption and a one-week marine investigative training with ASEAN regional wildlife enforcement network and PIF partners with implementation through FREELAND Foundation planned for early 2014. A Chair’s Summary of the outcomes of the Pathfinder Dialogue will be available at www.pathfinderconference.com/summary.