Switzerland has improved its ranking in a study of ethical business practices by the corruption watchdog, Transparency International.
Transparency's "Bribe Payers Index" shows Swiss business is becoming better at resisting the temptation to bribe officials in other countries as a means of securing lucrative contracts.
Switzerland shared second place with Sweden in the organisation's index behind Australia. South Korea, Taiwan, China and Russia came bottom, with the bulk of European countries ranked in the middle.
The index ranks 21 exporting countries based on their companies' willingness to bribe foreigners in order to win contracts.
The rankings were compiled by a survey carried out in 15 emerging market countries, which trade heavily with multinational corporations.
Willingness to bribe
Between December 2001 and March, the survey asked 835 financial experts, managers and business officials in the 15 emerging market countries the following question: "In the business sectors with which you are familiar, please indicate whether companies from the following countries are very likely, quite likely or unlikely to pay bribes to win or retain business in this country."
Its findings show that Switzerland has pulled its socks up since 1999, when it was ranked fifth, but that Russia and China continue to use bribes routinely as a way of securing business.
"Anti-corruption law is not followed with consistency," said Peter Eigen of Transparency International at a press conference in Paris on Tuesday.
"Our latest study leaves no doubt that multinational companies, as well as some of the world's richest countries, use criminal means to secure certain contracts in emerging market countries."
The survey also found that bribery was more common in some industries. The practice is most widespread in the construction and armament industries, followed by oil, banking, property, pharmaceuticals, energy and telecommunications.
swissinfo with agencies