Mr. Secretary General,
It is my honor and my pleasure to speak with you today. Membership in OECD is a strategic goal of Lithuanian foreign economic policy for already more than a decade.
OECD Council’s decision in May which included Lithuania as a candidate for membership negotiations was not only a positive evaluation of our efforts but also an encouragement and an incentive to do even more.
Lithuania already has an intensive history of constructive cooperation with OECD:
- Our experts and representatives already participate in 25 permanent OECD Committees and Programs and have been associated with 9 International instruments.
- By the end of this year we expect invitations to join 11 more Committees and Working Groups and we will initiate accession to two additional International instruments.
To make our cooperation even closer and our preparations more purposeful, we have prepared (together with an invaluable support of the OECD staff) a special Action Plan to achieve our main goal – sufficient alignment with the OECD acquis by 2015 in order to have a smooth transition into the next stage.
This Plan is already approved by our Government and was released to OECD Members on October 22nd. It covers OECD instruments we seek to adhere to, committees to join, and substantial policy reviews to be started in 2014 and 2015. It includes governance, trade, development, education, investments and other important sectors.
This Action Plan and our efforts to implement it, is not a tick marking on a “to do list”. Lithuania is fully determined to put its economic policy in line with OECD requirements. It is our [national] interest first of all. We see the adoption of the OECD acquis and its implementation as an important measure to strengthen our development by making our management more effective, our policies more sound and our business more competitive.
With a tangible support of OECD we already have achieved a lot. Lithuania’s economic performance clearly illustrates our like-mindedness and determination to comply with main principles of the OECD.
- Today Lithuania is respected and reliable partner in business and trade. Last “Doing Business” report ranked Lithuania 17th in the World. Now Lithuania is recognised as the best place for doing business among the Baltic States and in the Central and Eastern Europe. Together with Scandinavian countries we are among top 20 in the world in this respect.
- Lithuania has achieved a status of forward-looking and innovative technologies hub. Lithuanian ICT infrastructure is one of the best developed in terms of internet speed and communication technologies. Lithuanian laser- and bio- technologies are well-known around the world.
- Lithuania proved to be a successful manager during crisis. We had enough courage to launch a painful fiscal consolidation measures (equal to 12 % of GDP) on the peak of the World economic crisis. It allowed us to have sustainable economic growth and balanced current account today. Lithuania’s economy growth in 2013 will be the second highest in the EU (3.4%), as forecasted by the European Commission. And it will increase to 3.6% in 2014 and 3.9% in 2015. (Euro area is to contract by 0.5% in 2013).
- Lithuania’s prudent fiscal policy and public authority decisions to improve business environment allowed us to put our economy on sustainable path. Reduced fiscal deficit, manageable debt, slowing inflation, decreasing unemployment and improved confidence allow us to be in line with the Maastricht criteria and pursue to join Eurozone already in 2015.
Path of our reforms in last several years has already been based on useful example and advice from our OECD partners. It naturally makes Lithuania a like-minded country. And we look forward to strengthening our cooperation by making also our own contribution to OECD activities. And we are very satisfied that OECD has pledged “to work closely with Lithuania to prepare for its future accession process”.
As the current Presidency of the EU Council, Lithuania faces important decisions concerning the EU and its partners, which requires managing a complex agenda with a fine sense of balance.
The responsibilities will not end with the Presidency term. Lithuania‘s track record in various international organizations and active role in the international community resulted last month in an invitation to become the non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, beginning in 2014.
I expect that the body of work undertaken by Lithuania will sufficiently prove my country’s readiness for the OECD. Meanwhile, we really count on the Member States to monitor out progress, and keeping the cooperation-related questions prominently on OECD agenda.
Thank You and I’m ready to answer your questions.
OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría welcomes President of Lithuania, Mrs. Dalia Grybauskaitė, 12 November 2013
President of Lithuania visits OECD, 12 November 2013