Remarks by Angel Gurría
Santiago, 25 November 2015
(As prepared for delivery)
President Bachelet, Members of the Government, Distinguished Guests, Friends,
I want to start by expressing my gratitude to the President, the Government and all the people of Chile for the solidarity and support they have shown us in these difficult days in Paris, where the OECD has its headquarters. I thank you with all my heart. We are also thinking of Beirut, Bamako, and the Russian airplane from Sinai, and all the other places that are suffering from the threat of terrorism. Nobody is safe.
In this difficult setting, being here to commemorate five years of Chile's membership of the OECD is something that fills us with enthusiasm. Those five years have been very enriching – five years of sharing best practices and responses to the challenges of our day, five years of getting to know each other better and working side-by-side to improve opportunities and living standards for Chileans.
I want to thank President Bachelet and all her government for the warm welcome they have accorded me, my wife and my entire team on this official visit, during which we have presented our economic survey and have held various meetings that will further strengthen the excellent collaboration between Chile and the OECD.
I thank you also for the honour recently bestowed upon me by Chancellor Heraldo Muñoz in the form of the Grand Cross of the Order of Bernardo O’Higgins. I shall carry that honour with pride and responsibility, as a symbol of our determination to support and serve Chile.
On a personal note, I may say that Chile is indelibly linked to my nearly 10 years at the head of the OECD. Shortly after I assumed my position with the Organisation we opened the initial contacts that eventually led to accession. In my first four years in Paris I had the pleasure of working with the President's first administration to bring this process to a successful conclusion, together with many friends who are here with us today: Andrés Velasco, José Antonio Vieira-Gallo, Alejandro Foxley, Karen Poniachik, Maria Olivia Recart, Pilar Armanet, and so many others who helped to make this idea a reality.
It was a time of intense legislative work, constantly inspired by the determination of the President and her government to bring Chile up to the best international standards represented by the OECD in fiscal matters, in employment policy, in respect for the environment, in taxation, in corporate governance, in public services, and in many other areas where we laboured actively.
And now, as a member, Chile has brought a breath of fresh air to the Organisation. Chile is a young and dynamic democracy that has firmly withstood the ravages of the crisis, thanks to the soundness of its institutions and to its responsible and prudent monetary and fiscal management, combining social welfare and commitment, growth and equity.
We have continued working together closely over these last five years, placing at the service of the administrations of President Piñera and President Bachelet that which we know how to do best: support our member countries in their challenges and reforms, through shared experience. With Ambassadors Raúl Sáez and Ignacio Briones and now with Ambassador Claudia Serrano we have worked with the ministries and players involved in the design and implementation of public policies, figuring out the “how’s, where’s and when’s” of what works and what does not, always based on evidence and analytical rigour.
And now, Madam President, let us look to the future. I am doubly grateful today because Chile was the first country to declare its full and unequivocal support for the recent renewal of my mandate at the head of the OECD, for the term 2016-2021. Chile's chairmanship of our ministerial meeting, scheduled for early June 2016, will give a decisive boost to this co-operation, which will also be reflected in the Regional Programme for Latin America that we will be presenting there.
The working agenda with Chile is fuller than ever: we have just presented the economic survey, but during this visit we will also be presenting a diagnostic assessment of the barriers and opportunities that Chile faces for linking itself more thoroughly into global value chains. We are also going to speed up work on regulatory reform and corporate governance, and we are going to develop jointly a set of policies that will equip Chileans with competencies, skills and abilities that the labour market demands.
And of course, Madam President, we are at your service for backing the important agenda of reforms that you are pursuing – in education, the taxation system, the labour market, as well as your programmes for decentralisation and territorial development, productivity and innovation, productive diversification, and green growth.
You can also count on us for support in the task you have set for yourself in regenerating the democratic life of this country – a process that takes due account of everything achieved to date but that also recognises the need to consolidate transparency, integrity and good governance in order to restore society's trust in institutions and forge a new social covenant. Chile is not alone in this challenge, which the majority of our countries are facing, nor will it be alone in responding to that challenge – the OECD is at your side.
Dear President, dear friends,
As President Bachelet put it herself a few years ago, during a visit to our Organisation, the OECD is "the house of best practices". And today, indeed, we are a more open and more humane house – a better house – precisely because there is Chilean DNA coursing through our veins.
These are not easy times, not here, nor anywhere in the world. But as Pablo Neruda once wrote, "only with a burning patience can we conquer the splendid city which will give light, justice and dignity to all mankind. In this way the song will not have been sung in vain."