Remarks by Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General, delivered at the Embassy of Israel in Paris
29 June 2010, France
Mr. Ambassador, Deputy Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are gathered here to celebrate Israel's Accession Agreement to the OECD. In early May, Chile became the OECD’s first Member from South America. Shortly afterwards, Estonia, Israel and Slovenia were formally invited to become OECD Members.
These are momentous events, which open a new chapter in the history of our Organisation. They reflect a more open, more plural and inclusive OECD. These accessions are part of a broader process of global reach through which we are strengthening our collaboration with different regions of the world, bringing in new perspectives and enriching our policy dialogue.
As you know, accession to the OECD is an extremely rigorous and demanding process. Over the last three years, Israel has undergone in-depth reviews with 18 OECD Committees, which have scrutinised its policies in diverse fields, from investment to anti-corruption, from environment to fiscal affairs, from public governance to science and technology. During this process, Israel has changed some parts of their legal framework, and improved practices to comply with OECD high standards.
Indeed, the accession process has been a real catalyst for reforms, not just because the OECD requested them, but first and foremost because they are in the own interest of Israel.
Throughout this intense process, Israel and the OECD have engaged in highly constructive and open discussions. In a number of areas such as investment, corporate governance and competition, Israel’s policies were already close to OECD standards. In other areas, Israel has made important steps forward, including through commitments to implement OECD environmental standards and accession to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.
Indeed, for Israel, as for our other new and prospective Members, the successful conclusion of the accession process is not the end of the road. In fact, it is just the beginning of a process of mutual learning. And I would like to stress the “mutual” in this process. In fact, in certain areas, OECD countries have a lot to learn from Israel’s experience.
I can make specific examples how the “Israeli model” and its expertise can enrich the OECD.
Israel is a young and dynamic country whose economy has developed under difficult circumstances. Its success in extracting itself from huge macroeconomic problems of hyperinflation and massive public debt in the late 1980s and early 1990s is an experience that is widely quoted. This policy experience underscores the very critical role that good policy responses play on growth and confidence. As such it is of outmost relevance to all countries.
Israel’s valuable perspective on promoting innovation, science and technology is another example. In particular, policies encouraging small, high-tech firms through grants, business incubators and so on appear to have been highly successful and may be a model other countries wish to emulate.
So, we certainly look forward to Israel bringing diverse and valuable policy perspectives and expertise to the OECD.
The new accession agreements indeed come at a time when international co-operation, particularly on economic issues, is more important than ever. The economic and financial crisis underscores the need for all economies to come together in order to find appropriate policy responses which can restore growth and confidence. We also face major global challenges such as climate change and the need for “green growth” and new sustainable sources of growth. The experience of the OECD as a forum where countries can come to share best practices, improve and coordinate policy-making and develop international standards to address international issues, will be a richness for Israel. I do hope that this will serve a stimulus for open and dispassionate debates within Israel. Permettez-moi, à ce propos, de citer un grand écrivain français, André Maurois « Dans une discussion, le difficile, ce n'est pas de défendre son opinion, c'est de la connaître."
The OECD has firmly established its place in the global economic architecture. It is gratifying that new countries – and successful reformers, such as Israel – recognise the value of our Organisation and wish to join us in our endeavours.
Ambassador, Ladies and Gentlemen:
Our relevance lies in our diversity. We are honoured to have Israel and the other new accession countries as our partners and colleagues in building a stronger, cleaner and fairer world economy. I would like to congratulate your country on all of its impressive achievements throughout the accession process.
Our recognition goes to all those who have been involved this processes for their leadership, dedication and hard work.