Press release 28th Jan 2021

Corruption index shows key markets for 'Global Britain' at high risk of public sector bribery and embezzlement

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January 28, 2021 - UK companies looking to new markets after Brexit risk being severely disadvantaged by corruption in those countries, data from Transparency International’s latest Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) indicates.

The 2020 CPI, the leading global indicator of public sector corruption, shows the UK’s score remains at 77 out of 100 for the second year running, meaning Britain remains outside of the top 10 scoring nations globally.

But the results also show stubborn corruption risks across huge swathes of the globe – including in dozens of emerging and developing markets where the UK could strike post-Brexit free trade agreements, such as India, Brazil and Indonesia.


Daniel Bruce, Chief Executive of Transparency International UK, said:

“Corruption continues to cause significant harm the world over – through bribery, embezzlement and diversion of public money. These results show two-thirds of countries scoring less than 50 out of 100 on the index.

“The UK’s score remains stagnant and outside the top ten for a third consecutive year. This shows there must be no room for complacency when it comes to the integrity of our own public institutions.

“This year, we should be very concerned about corruption in dozens of countries Britain may now seek to do more business in. The Government has already talked up the possibility of free trade deals with states across Asia-Pacific with variously poor scores on corruption. With the UK now an independent trading nation, it is vital that companies be afforded every opportunity to export with integrity. Enshrining robust anti-corruption measures in all future trade deals is an essential starting point.”


Global highlights

The 2020 edition of the CPI ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, drawing on 13 expert assessments and surveys of business executives. It uses a scale of zero (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).

Denmark and New Zealand top the index, with 88 points. Syria, Somalia and South Sudan come last, with 14, 12 and 12 points, respectively.


Risks for ‘Global Britain’

Companies around the world are facing increased corruption risks as they become more reliant on diffuse supply chains and complex third-party networks.

Without adequate anti-corruption safeguards in future trade agreements, doing business in emerging markets, all of which score significantly lower than the UK, will carry heightened risks for British firms – especially companies bidding for government contracts in those countries.

The UK Government has promoted the possibility of free trade deals with India (CPI score of 40) and countries across the Asia-Pacific that score very poorly in this year’s CPI including Indonesia (37), the Philippines (34), and Thailand (36).

An agreement has already been struck with Mexico (31) to continue tariff-free trade on a range of products, with the aim of negotiating a more comprehensive free trade agreement this year. Brazil (40) has also expressed its desire to negotiate free trade deal with the UK.  

The East African Community is working to negotiate a post-Brexit trade deal. The bloc includes some of the poorest performers in 2020’s CPI: South Sudan (12), Burundi (19), Uganda (27) and Tanzania (38).



To protect UK companies doing business in new markets, we urge the UK Government to ensure anti-corruption measures are enshrined in future trade deals. These measures should require:

Trading partners legislate to address corruption, either by adopting or maintaining laws that criminalise corruption with appropriate penalties. Rules should also ensure the protection of whistleblowers and freedom of the press.

Trade partners to demonstrate commitment to an independent, competent and sufficiently resourced judiciary, with the law impartially enforced.

Trade partners to engage in public information campaigns with other governments and local groups for international commerce, to promote doing business without bribery as an accepted norm.


Notes to editors:


UK’s CPI scores since 2015















About Transparency International UK

Transparency International UK is the UK’s leading independent anti-corruption organisation and part of the global Transparency International movement.


About the Corruption Perceptions Index

The CPI measures perceived levels of corrupt practices in the public sector such as bribery, the use of public office for private gain, and the diversion of public funds. It does not measure how a country facilitates corruption elsewhere in the world.

The CPI is a ‘poll of polls’ that collates and standardises data from 12 independent sources such as the World Bank, World Economic Forum, and the Economist’s Intelligence Unit. More information is available here -



Harvey Gavin

[email protected]

+44 (0)20 3096 7695

+44 (0)79 6456 0340