In Europe, trust in business has fallen in the past six months, while in the US it has increased, according to Edelman's latest Trust Survey.
In both the US and UK NGOs are now more trusted than each of the business, government and media sectors.
Unveiling the research at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Edelman president and CEO Richard Edelman said opinions on trust had diverged 'significantly' between the US and Europe in the past year. He said legislation such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act had helped restore some faith in US businesses, after corporate scandals such as Enron and WorldCom.
Sarbanes-Oxley, effective from last August, increased the obligation on company directors to ensure accuracy of financial information.
In Europe trust in business has declined significantly, from 43 per cent in June last year to 35 per cent today. In the UK, airlines, healthcare and consumer goods scored highest on trust, while investment and insurance services, along with retail financial services, are the least trusted sectors.
Edelman surveyed 400 opinion-leaders in the US and 150 in each of the UK, France and Germany between 14 December 2002 and 10 January 2003.