Focus on trade in radically overhauled new US strategy for an international fight against corruption

The US will work with international partners as well as domestically to prevent, limit, and respond to corruption and related crimes in a significant overhaul of the way it targets public corruption that includes a clear focus on international trade according to a new plan released by the administration of US President Joe Biden.

A central theme in the plan is that the US and other developed economies have created and sustain conditions allowing corrupt public officials, often in developing countries, to hide illicit wealth abroad.

Focus on trade

The plan therefore focuses on the need to develop measures to prevent corrupt elites and non-state armed groups enriching themselves through illicit proceeds and trade of high-value commodities, including gold, wildlife, timber, petroleum and other natural resources.

It also focuses on the need to curb money laundering, terrorism finance, and other illicit financial dealings through the trade in works of art and antiquities.


In June 2021, Biden established the fight against corruption as a core national security interest of the US and ordered federal departments and agencies to conduct an interagency review to take stock of the government’s existing anti-corruption efforts and to identify and seek to rectify persistent gaps in the fight against corruption.

In parallel with this review, departments and agencies have begun to accelerate and amplify their efforts to prevent and combat corruption at home and abroad; bring transparency to the US’ and international financial systems, and make it increasingly difficult for corrupt actors to shield their activities.

International collaboration

This first United States Strategy on Countering Corruption builds on the findings of the review and lays out a comprehensive approach for how the US will work domestically and internationally, with governmental and non-governmental partners, to prevent, limit, and respond to corruption and related crimes.

The strategy places special emphasis on the transnational dimensions of the challenges posed by corruption, including by recognising the ways in which corrupt actors have used the US financial system and other rule-of-law based systems to launder their ill-gotten gains.

To curb corruption the plan says the US government will now organise its efforts around five mutually reinforcing pillars of work: modernising, coordinating, and resourcing US government efforts to fight corruption; curbing illicit finance; holding corrupt actors accountable; preserving and strengthening the multilateral anti-corruption architecture and, improving diplomatic engagement and leveraging foreign assistance resources to advance policy goals.

The United States Strategy on Countering Corruption can be found here.


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