Introductory remarks by Angel Gurría
Paris, 12 November 2018
Dear President, Dear Ambassadors,
I am delighted to welcome President Duque to the OECD Council for what we hope will be the first of many visits!
2018 has been a momentous year for Colombia. Five years after opening official accession talks, it successfully completed its accession process to the OECD and was invited by the Council to become one of our members last May. As you know, Colombia will become the 37th Member of the Organisation following the deposit of its instrument of accession to the OECD Convention, which we hope will happen very soon.
President Duque’s visit today is further evidence of Colombia’s commitment to OECD Membership and alignment with our standards.
Mr. President, your leadership and vision will be instrumental in guiding Colombia through a series of ambitious reforms to improve its governance, make the public sector more effective, modernise the economy and make growth more inclusive and more sustainable. Reducing inequalities, tackling the high level of informality and addressing the slowdown in productivity growth remain key challenges for Colombia. All of them are public policy areas in which the OECD has great knowledge and experience that you can rely on.
As a result of the accession process, Colombia already has a good head start in several of these areas. The country made impressive strides including in reforming its justice system and reducing informality in the labour market. The accession process has also been instrumental in the design and implementation of new national policies, such as on water and chemicals management. Encouraged by the OECD, Colombia took important steps to improve its governance of state-owned enterprises (SOEs), including the removal of Ministers from the boards. To comply with the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, Colombia significantly modified its corporate liability regime. The list of reforms goes on.
We also welcome the efforts of the current administration to increase public revenues, which remain relatively low compared to Latin America and the OECD, through a “Financing Law”. These resources are key to finance development and in particular the implementation of the National Development Plan 2018-2022 "Pact for Equity" that will undoubtedly help to comply with the country's social contract and support competitiveness.
The accession process has indeed been a catalyst for these impressive reforms, which have not only benefited Colombian citizens, but have also inspired learning opportunities for other OECD members and partners facing similar challenges. The OECD community has much to gain from Colombia’s accession.
Colombia can also be a cornerstone to the Organisation’s enhanced engagement with Latin America, including through the Regional Programme and the OECD Development Centre, where Colombia has been a member since July 2008.
We also reiterate the continued importance of Colombia’s peace process as a source of inspiration for efforts in many parts of the world to end conflicts and build peace.
We look forward to continue strengthening our relationship with your country and to welcoming you as the 37th OECD Member as soon as possible. We stand ready to support you and encourage you to use the OECD as a tool to advance your ambitious reform agenda, and to rely on our expertise to help translate better policies into better lives for all citizens in Colombia. Thank you!