Lack of trust bigger threat to firms than terrorism

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The Independent Online

As fears of terrorist attacks escalate daily, businesses are being warned not to get too obsessed about the risk that an outrage such as the attack on the Twin Towers poses to their everyday activities.

As fears of terrorist attacks escalate daily, businesses are being warned not to get too obsessed about the risk that an outrage such as the attack on the Twin Towers poses to their everyday activities.

Control Risks Group, a business risk consultancy, will today tell businesses that the biggest danger facing them is not that of another major terrorist attack but a far simpler one: a lack of trust.

The group, which analyses business risks for many of the US Fortune top 100 companies as well as those in the UK's FTSE 100, said it was the "worldwide lack of trust" – between companies, governments and local communities – that could most "dramatically impact international business success" in 2003.

Richard Fenning, the group's chief operating officer, said. "The ongoing threat of terrorism is a major factor in the trust deficit for Western companies. Without trust, business opportunities are lost. In this time of economic uncertainty, bridging this gap in trust by gaining a real understanding of business risks is essential."

In its RiskMap 2003, an analysis that assesses the relative risks of operating in 195 countries worldwide, Control Risk pits war and corporate scandal alongside terrorism as the three main external threats that big corporations face.

"The hotspots remain hot, but the risks to businesses have spread across the world. Wherever companies choose to operate, there must be mutual trust between companies, host governments, staff and local communities," Mr Fleming said.

Christopher Grose, a director of Control Risk, said that in the wake of 11 September, businesses had to come to terms with the increased "ferocity" of terrorist attacks as well as the fact geographical boundaries were no longer so easy to define. "Our message is to say, yes, you have got to keep an eye on terrorism, but at the same time don't take your eye off other issues", such as contingency plans in the event of an attack or making sure companies have a working anti-fraud policy.

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