MCM Lunch: Strategic Orientations and New Approaches to Economic Challenges


Remarks by Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General

OECD Headquarters, Paris
29 May 2012

Dear Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The crisis is not yet behind us. Many of our citizens are still suffering its consequences. It is crucial that we not lose momentum for reform. Last year many of you asked us to join forces with you to restore competitiveness and growth, reduce unemployment and address inequalities.  And, indeed, that is what we have been doing and what we are here to do!
This is why my Strategic Orientations for 2013 are all about IMPACT. They are about supporting the needs of our Member and Partner countries, and addressing the issues that are most relevant to you.

We are doing this in three key ways:
•    At the national level, by providing tailor-made analysis, expertise and advice;
•    At the global level, by becoming a more effective and inclusive global policy network and supporting the global governance architecture such as the G20 and G8; and
•    At the heart of the Organisation, by revisiting our thinking, analysis and policy tools.

Over the past year, the OECD has significantly increased its support for national agendas through tailored policy advice to promote growth and competitiveness. Targeted advice: to  reform labour market regulation in search of productivity; to strengthen education systems to develop the skills necessary to compete; and to encourage innovation and a more efficient use of natural resources in pursuit of more sustainable growth.

Most importantly, we have made this advice available at strategic moments in the political life of our countries. Through the “Better Policies Series” brochures, the“Getting it Right Series” and through meetings with leaders. For example: the Seminar on Growth with Italy’s then Prime Minister Monti or more recently with Prime Minister Letta; discussions on social cohesion with Korea’s then President-Elect Park; and in-depth advice for Mexico’s then President-Elect Peña Nieto on the reform agenda of his new government. Among others, we also welcomed the Presidents of Israel and Iceland, the Prime Ministers of Portugal and Slovakia, and held in-depth talks with President Hollande of France and Chancellor Merkel of Germany, along with the heads of other international organisations.

Going forward, we will further sharpen our policy advice by strengthening our horizontal initiatives, such as the Development Strategy, the Green Growth Strategy, the Skills Strategy, or the Innovation Strategy. We will also place an even greater emphasis on new and promising agendas, such as Knowledge-Based Capital, Global Value Chains and Trade in Value Added, the Better Life Initiative and Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS).

Finally, we need to think about implementation. Quite simply, our policy recommendations have no value if they are not implemented effectively. That is why we will put a greater emphasis on making reform happen! The OECD will support efforts to build more effective and more transparent institutions, including by looking at important issues, such as the financing of political campaigns.

As well as “Going National”, the OECD continues to “Go Global”. We are very honoured to have received several accession requests. We are working with the Russian Federation towards accession and have strengthened engagement with Key Partner countries. We also continue to actively support reform in the MENA region, Africa and Latin America, and are establishing a special Southeast Asia programme.

In the G20, we worked closely with the Mexican Presidency, particularly in the field of green growth, and we are now supporting the priorities of the Russian Presidency to boost growth, identify new sources of financing for investment, tackle tax issues, promote jobs and facilitate trade.
In the G8, we are supporting the UK Presidency in the areas of tax, trade and transparency. I would like to thank Prime Minister Cameron for his invitation to attend the G8 Summit in Loch Erne in June. Furthermore, we are working with the G8 as an Implementation Support Agency for the G8 Deauville Partnership.

While building on our core strengths at the national and global level, we are also adapting ourselves internally to the needs of our Members and Partners. Since we launched the NAEC Initiative at last year’s Ministerial Council Meeting, we have made significant progress.

The Report in front of you outlines the ambition, the breadth and the depth of the work ahead. We will reflect on the past, looking at the unintended consequences of our policies, while remaining resolutely forward-looking. In particular, we will improve our understanding of policy trade-offs and synergies related to growth, inequality, and the environment.  I see NAEC as the scaffolding upon which we can together make the best of this organisation.

The focus on outcomes – such as wellbeing, inclusiveness and sustainability –is key in this regard. Take for instance our work on “Inclusive Growth”. We are now working on how best to define, measure, and compare the concept across countries and how to ensure that its benefits are shared more equitably.

The new approaches developed under NAEC will also provide us with a longer-term perspective on how global trends – globalisation, population growth and ageing, environmental challenges and natural resource constraints, and technological change – may evolve and the new kinds of policy challenges they will present.

All of this will be delivered to you in a Synthesis Report at the next Ministerial Council Meeting in 2014. I am confident that we are well placed to meet this demanding challenge head-on.
Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It’s all about IMPACT, it’s all about POLICIES, and – above all – it’s all about PEOPLE. This is what this Ministerial Council Meeting is about. PEOPLE are what make us work around the clock, “sept sur sept”, for you – with our advice, our standards and our bid to renew our thinking and our policy tools!

Rest assured that we will listen very carefully to you – our Members and Partners – to learn about your needs and expectations.

Let me conclude on a happy note: today is the 40th Anniversary of New Zealand’s membership to the OECD. So, let me raise a glass to Tim Groser, an old friend of the OECD, and to Ambassador Banks. This is a fortunate occasion to celebrate the journey of mutual learning that we have had together over the last 40 years. We look forward to continuing that rich dialogue for many years to come.

I give the floor back to our Chair.


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