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OECD Secretary-General

2015 Ministerial Council Meeting Opening Remarks

 

Opening Remarks by Angel Gurría

Secretary-General, OECD

Paris, 3 June 2015

(As prepared for delivery)

 

 

Prime Minister Rutte, Dear Ministers, Vice Ministers, Ambassadors:

 

It is my great pleasure to officially open the OECD 2015 Ministerial Council Meeting (MCM) and in particular to welcome Prime Minister Rutte, the chair of this MCM, to the OECD. It is very encouraging to see so many Deputy Prime Ministers, Ministers, and Vice Ministers around the table. As you know, this year we have focused our discussions on one of the most pressing global challenges: “Unlocking Investment for Sustainable Growth and Jobs.”

 

This is a capital issue. As we gather here today, the global recovery continues, but is still mired by high levels of unemployment, rising inequalities, and low wage and productivity growth.

 

A major explanation for this state of affairs is the lack of vigour of investment, both public and private. As we will show later this morning, during the launch of the Economic Outlook, we expect global GDP growth to strengthen progressively next year, but only as long as investment regains its pre-crisis strength.

 

So far, investment growth has been weaker than in previous cyclical recoveries. In fact, flows of fixed investment in OECD countries are still well below their pre-crisis peak, especially in the Euro area and Japan. FDI global flows remain 40% below their pre-crisis levels. Intangible investment, what we called knowledge-based capital, has weathered the crisis better. But the generalised slowdown in productivity of recent years demonstrates that technological progress is not spreading fast enough across all economic sectors.

 

Strong investment is crucial not only to support demand and employment creation but also to increase productivity. Investment carries the DNA of our future. So this time we need to promote investments that favour sustainability, job creation and social inclusion. And we need to link this effort to our innovation, our education and our skills strategies, as well as to our policies to foster green growth and international trade.

 

To make the most of our discussions, we will provide you with several OECD deliverables: a synthesis report with the first set of conclusions and recommendations from the New Approaches to Economic Challenges (NAEC) initiative; a progress report on the Inclusive Growth (IG) initiative; updates to both the OECD Policy Framework for Investment (PFI) and the OECD Innovation Strategy (IS); OECD Principles on Water Governance; the joint report with the IEA, NEA and ITF on Aligning Policies to Facilitate Transition to a Low-carbon Economy (APT) and, as every year; the Secretary-General’s Strategic Orientations for the way forward.

 

The orchestration of all this work will require great leadership. That is why I am delighted to have Prime Minister Rutte by my side, who will be chairing this Ministerial with a competent Dutch team, supported by the Czech Republic, France and Korea as Vice-Chairs.

 

Prime Minister Rutte is the ideal person to lead this venture. He has the triangular experience of the private sector, the political system and public administration. He has dealt with these challenges from all three perspectives. He also has stated that he would like us to frame all our proposals and all our agreements within the social imperative of inclusion. No wonder! He has been Minister of Social Affairs, Employment, Education, Culture and Science. In fact his CV is almost an improved version of our Ministerial programme!

 

I am sure that his leadership and charisma will also help a lot, especially as our programme this year will be very interactive, with scenario-based policy discussions, breakout sessions, substantive panels and a conversation with President Hollande. So I invite you all to be proactive and bold, and invest your time well in this MCM!