HSE University Anti-Corruption Portal
TRACE Releases a Global Index of Business Corruption Risk

TRACE International, a not-for-profit business association, has released the TRACE Matrix 2021which is an annual global index of business corruption risk.


The TRACE Matrix* is a weighted score of risk that private companies can encounter in conducting their business activities in different countries. In 2021, it covers 194 jurisdictions. In conclusion of the assessment process each country received a total score from 1 to 100, where 1 score equals the lowest risk of corruption, whereas 100 means the highest. For each country, potential risk was assessed in the following domains: 

  • Business Interactions with Government – 40% of the total score;
  • Anti-Bribery Deterrence and Enforcement – 15% of the score;
  • Government and Civil Service Transparency – 22.5% of the score;
  • Capacity for Civil Society Oversight – 22.5% of the score.

The top of the TRACE Matrix list has remained unchanged for the last four years: according to the findings of 2021, business corruption is most unlikely to be encountered in Denmark (score of 2 out of 100), Norway (5), Sweden (7), Finland (7) and New Zealand (8).

As in the previous year, the countries with the highest corruption risk are North Korea (score of 94 out of 100), Turkmenistan (86) and Eritrea (81). South Sudan and Venezuela that received 85 and 82 scores respectively in 2020, have demonstrated somewhat worse results, getting 80 and 81 scores.

In general, the developers of the TRACE Matrix stress that over the past ten years the business bribery risk environment worsened significantly in countries that also experienced democratic backsliding such as Turkey, that has fallen by 50 places (from 79th in 2014 to 129th in 2021), Hungary, which has lost 46 scores in the ranking, and Poland that has moved down by 17 places, and in the Gulf States (Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Bahrain). Other countries, conversely, have demonstrated considerable improvement of their business environment: for instance, Uzbekistan has risen from 177th place in 2016 to 147th in 2021, Armenia - from 64th to 47th, Angola – from 198th to 172th place.

The Russian Federation with its 55 scores is 134th in the TRACE Matrix in 2021, falling by 7 positions (last year, the country was 127th in the ranking). In each domain of business risk Russia has received the following scores:

  • a score of 48 in the “Business Interactions with Government” domain (two scores less than a year ago);
  • a score of 72 under “Anti-Bribery Deterrence and Enforcement” (plus one score if compared to 2020);
  • 50 scores in the “Government and Civil Service Transparency” domain (five scores more);
  • 62 scores under “Capacity for Civil Society Oversight” (two scores more).

The TRACE International experts highlight that the reasons why the Russian Federation received relatively low scores are the same as in the previous year: a low degree of government interaction, a high expectation of bribes, a low quality of anti-bribery enforcement, a low degree of media freedom and civil society engagement in the fight against corruption etc.

*The TRACE Matrix has been developed by TRACE International in cooperation with the RAND Corporation, a US analytical centre, since 2014 and is released annually. If compared to other similar indices that use surveys findings, the TRACE Matrix is based on statistics published by leading non-state and international organisations, including the United Nations, the World Bank and the World Economic Forum. 

Corruption measurement
Civil society

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