Sometimes members ask about the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and what they should be doing to ensure that they are compliant with the law. The simple, basic answer from a global anti-corruption viewpoint is that you should do business all over the world just like you would do business in Chicago or Detroit. In fact, the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act is your unexpected ally in doing business everywhere. It says to potential customers that as an American company you will not participate in any kind of personal bribery to gain a business advantage.

Use this shield to your advantage! It will allow you to avoid being dragged into an unwanted quagmire and should not cost you any new orders. These days the vast majority of manufacturing quality-driven customers will buy the best equipment they can from the best global suppliers they can find—without the need to resort to corrupt “under-the-table” practices. If you are heavily solicited for a kickback, this is likely an order you will lose to someone else anyway—so just move on. Bottom line, to avoid participating in corrupt business practices: work with your customers and agents abroad just like you would work with them at home.

If you ever have any procedural doubts about an individual business situation, ask your legal counsel.