Signing Ceremony of the Accession Agreement on Chile’s Accession to the OECD
Remarks by Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General
Santiago de Chile, 11 January, 2010
Ministers, Members of Parliament, Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We start this year with a very important event for our institution: the signing of Chile’s Agreement of Accession to the OECD. By happy coincidence, this event will coincide not only with the 50th Anniversary of the OECD, but also, and more importantly, with Chile’s bicentenary as an independent nation.
Chile’s accession to the OECD occurs at a time when international co-operation is becoming ever more important. The economic and financial crisis has underlined the need for developing and advanced economies to cooperate and to come together to define appropriate policy responses to restore growth and confidence. The challenge of climate change and the need to endow the Copenhagen agreement with binding, operational and financial deliverables in the next few years is another example of this.
The OECD has been striving for a stronger, cleaner and fairer world economy; that is our mandate. To fulfil it, we need to become a more open and pluralistic organisation. Chile’s accession is an important step in this strategy; and it will soon be followed by the other four accession countries (Israel, Slovenia, Estonia and Russia). Stronger interaction with major emerging economies such as Brazil, Indonesia, South Africa, China and India, through our Enhanced Engagement project is another important part of this strategy.
Chile will be the first South American country to join the Organisation; and, along with Mexico, we are relying on Chile to strengthen our ties with the Latin America region as a whole, and with other important emerging economies.
President of Chile Michele Bachelet greeting OECD's Secretary-General, Angel Gurría at the Palacio de La Moneda, Santiago de Chile
The “Chilean way” and its expertise will enrich the OECD on key policy issues. Chile has been embarked on a continuous effort to reform its economy. Over nearly two decades it has developed a strong set of democratic institutions, and it has succeeded in combining robust economic growth with improved social welfare. This experience will be an asset for the OECD as we try to address common issues such as inequality or the coverage and viability of pension systems.
As President Bachelet put it during her visit to Paris last May, the OECD is “the club of countries that promote and foster best practices”. Member countries come to the OECD to learn from each other, to improve policy-making and to develop international standards and rules to address global challenges. Let me give you three examples of OECD instruments that have improved the workings of the world economy or have acted as a catalyst for domestic reforms in our member countries.
Recently, based on OECD work stretching over more than a decade, the G20
decided to put an end to banking secrecy as a tool of international tax evasion. As the global standard-setter in this field, we provided all the elements needed to reach this very important political decision, to prevent the erosion of the tax base in both OECD and non-OECD countries and to enhance the capacity of governments to invest in their human and physical infrastructure to advance growth and prosperity.
The OECD is also the leading voice in the fight against corruption, through the Anti-bribery Convention
. Since the enactment of this Convention over ten years ago, it is no longer acceptable for a company to bribe officials in other countries in order to obtain international business. To give an idea of the progress made in this area, until a few years ago bribery was actually tax-deductible in some countries; but it is now considered a crime and countries have to cooperate in the framework of the Convention to prosecute it.
Lastly, the OECD was the very first international organisation to develop standardised comparative performance indicators of national education systems. Our PISA
report, which now encompasses over 70 countries, has not only advanced the agenda for quality education (by defining a set of skills that students should develop in a globalised context), but has become the benchmark for policy making and reform in this key field.
There are many other examples of OECD reports or rules that have formed the basis for change and better policy decisions in a wide range of areas: agriculture, health, labour, governance, investment, science and technology, to name but a few.
The OECD accession process is in itself a catalyst for reform. Over the past two years, Chile has made a comprehensive and in-depth analysis of its economic, social and environmental policies, practices and institutions, and has taken significant steps in a number of areas.
Chile has decided to introduce information exchange for tax purposes, in line with the international standard. It has also established the liability of legal entities for bribery, which could serve as a model for the whole Latin American region. In addition, it has reviewed and improved the corporate governance of both state-owned and private companies. Chile has also made important commitments for progress in mitigation and adaptation to climate change and other environmental challenges. All of these measures will ultimately ensure sustainable growth and better lives for its citizens.
Based on Chile’s extraordinary commitment to reform and change, on December 15th, our Member countries invited Chile to take its place at the OECD table; and I am honoured to hand you a copy of the statements they made on that historic occasion, Madam President.
Chile’s accession to the OECD is, therefore, a milestone on the road to further cooperation and development. Let me express my warmest thanks to you, President Bachelet, Minister Velasco, Co-ordinator Poniachik, Minister Fernández, Minister Vieira Gallo, Minister Armanet, Secretary of State Recart and the whole Chilean team. You have demonstrated extraordinary leadership throughout the accession process. Your dedication and hard work, together with the sense of responsibility shown by political leaders and members of Parliament have enabled us to complete the process in barely two years, in which the OECD was honoured to act as advisor to the Chilean government.
We are now in a position to co-operate even more closely. For example, in a few days time we shall publish our economic survey on Chile, the recommendations of which aim to strengthen competitiveness and the buoyancy of the Chilean economy. Among other things, it will highlight the need to increase productivity through competition and innovation, to promote new sources of growth, particularly by adopting a green growth strategy, and to address the problem of unequal opportunities through sound education and social safety-net policies.
Now is the time to write a new chapter on global economic governance and international co-operation. It is time to build a stronger, cleaner and fairer world economy. It is time to identify and promote new sources of growth, pursue new ideas for innovation, develop a new agenda for jobs, take steps to reduce inequalities and promote new green-growth strategies. The OECD is honoured to embark on this new endeavour with Chile as a new partner and Member country.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez once said “it is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams”. Chile is a young country and the OECD is a young organisation: let’s pursue our dreams together!
Thank you very much.