How to Avoid Pitfalls and Expand in Emerging Markets

Posted By: Admin, 30 May, 2011 - 11:20 am


According to the world’s largest online economics forum, EconomyWatch.com, the fastest growing economies in 2010 belonged to countries from emerging markets such as China, India and Ghana, which tops the list, thanks largely to a fairly recent discovery of offshore oil and a new era of peace, political stability and good governance.

Generally, British businesses go into different countries and try to affect corporate governance if and where it’s applicable, but there are certain cultural issues you should be aware of before attempting to expand into new territories.

For example, you must have the right attitude when it comes to bribery and corruption.

Following the strengthening of anti-corruption legislation, multinationals and their executives face increased complexity in the regulations governing their behaviour, fines, and prison sentences for breaking local laws.

Additionally, the US Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission have become more aggressive in their attempts to clampdown on misconduct, increasing their investigation from five in 2004 to 56 last year.

In recent years, leading firms such as BAE Systems, Siemens and French telecoms group Alcatel-Lucent have paid a combined total exceeding £1 billion in fines after being accused of bribing government officials to procure international contracts.

The UK’s reputation will improve with the introduction of the long-overdue Bribery Act, which comes into force in a few weeks time.

Likewise, an initiative launched by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the Asian Development Bank, which encouraged 28 Asia-Pacific governments to sign an anti-corruption programme, is sure to impress international regulators.

Moreover, you’ll find that around 50% of companies are family-owned in Asia so the culture and approach to business is entirely different, which is something to be mindful of.

Never be condescending or assume the Western way of doing things is superior, however, the principles of corporate governance are the same no matter where you are in the world.

It’s important to be thoughtful, sensitive and always aware of the environment you’re working in; try to focus your interactions on central themes such as objectivity and accountability.

Over time, the relevance of bodies such as ACGP will increase because corporate governance professionals have a responsibility to help people work together by documenting the platform of the landscape so it is transparent for people working in different markets.

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