Remarks by Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General - Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum 2013
Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation
20 June 2013
Ladies and Gentlemen,
- Russia is a key player in the world economy and therefore already integrated in the complex architecture of Global Economic Governance. Russia’s G20 Presidency and its leadership have underpinned this role further.
- The OECD has a long-standing relationship and a long history of cooperation with Russia, spanning two decades. We have accompanied Russia’s drive for modernisation since the early 1990s, contributing expertise and analysis, in particular through our Economic Surveys and policy reviews in a variety of areas including investment, regulatory policy and education. As a result, today, Russia participates in more committees of the OECD than any other partner country.
- Russia and the OECD have now decided to go the "extra mile" with Russia going through the process of full accession to the OECD – following an invitation to join the Organization delivered by our Council in 2007.
- Russia’s accession to the OECD should be truly win-win endeavor:
- For Russia, the value of OECD accession lies in its contribution to the modernisation of the Russian economy. Rather than being an end in itself, our accession process is a catalyst for reform - a tool to improve policy-making, and the benefits will be reaped by Russia itself and improve Russia’s economic performance.
- Last February, in the margins of the G20 Finance Ministers meeting, I launched, jointly with Russian Finance Minister Siluanov, the latest issue of our Going for Growth publication. It was an opportunity for the OECD to stress that despite its rich natural and human resources, the potential of the Russian economy remains largely untapped. It has low productivity, low per capita income, and low access to and use of ICT. It faces a critical structural challenge to reduce its dependence on oil revenues. So we very much hope that the accession to the OECD will provide a push to much-needed structural reforms – such as increasing competition, including by lowering barriers to foreign investment, or by reducing the role of the state in the economy, enhancing the efficiency of the public administration and strengthening the rule of law.
- But the accession process is so-to-speak a "two-way street": The OECD would equally benefit from Russia’s joining its membership, especially at a time when Russia’s leadership is very prominent - in 2013 - with the Russian Presidency of the G20, and in 2014 with the Presidency of the G8.
- This leadership is important as we work together to steer the global economy onto a renewed growth path. Certainly, Russia is and has never ceased to be a critical player on the international scene. But over the last decade, it has increased its integration into global economic institutions. The country is already a member of the G8, the G20 and recently joined the WTO. It is a natural progression that Russia would join the OECD and contribute to the global policy dialogue and to the setting of new international standards.
- Russia has the experience of transition from a planned to a market economy that is fully integrated into the global economy. It can share this experience with current OECD Members and importantly with our Key Partners – Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and South Africa. As a cluster of reformers, we could benefit from a broader, more global membership; bringing Russia into this group will help us enhance our global reach and relevance.
- Last but not least, Russia brings to the Organisation its experience with low public debt, high labour force participation and high level of education. As a regional leader, Russia can also facilitate OECD’s outreach with Eurasia.
- Where do we stand with respect to the process of accession? Let me give you a brief overview of the situation and of the process going forward:
- First, it is important to recall that Russia’s accession to the OECD entails a thorough 360-degree review of its public policies. Russia is being evaluated according to the OECD’s own standards. This is not a series of negotiations like WTO accession, and while the completion of WTO accession is a major achievement, it does not automatically lead to OECD accession, which covers much more than trade issues.
- The process is designed to ensure the convergence towards OECD standards and best practices. We are looking to accelerated change — clear evidence that Russia is moving going in the right direction - and is already far enough down the road so that this change is "irreversible".
- There have been important achievements already: Since 2007, Russia has intensified its participation in many of our committees, where its increasing substantive engagement with OECD standards has been widely recognised by OECD bodies. A few successful examples include Russia joining the Anti-Bribery Convention and the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters.
- But there are areas where Russia still needs to achieve significant progress. In particular, most committees conducting reviews have recurrently called for strengthening the rule of law and ensuring the effective implementation of laws, regulations, codes and policies.
- Some upcoming reviews, such as the review of Russia’s implementation of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, will be crucial. Members will also focus on the ongoing dialogue regarding internet policy and information security and on the review of trade issues where we expect discussion on implementation of WTO commitments.
- Five reviews have been concluded and a sixth may finish imminently. However, another sixteen some key ones are still ongoing, including on major issues like investment, corporate governance, environment policy or public governance.
- Let me conclude by saying that, whatever the intensity and the differences in our technical discussions, what matters here is that there is strong political momentum on both sides to advance and complete the accession process:
- In particular, the OECD and our member countries welcome Russia’s focus on the "quality" rather than on the speed of the process. We always say that Russia’s accession to the OECD is too important to be urgent.
- I am also very encouraged to observe that Russia’s motivation and drive for accession is rising, despite the fact that the process can be very demanding in terms of work to be done, resources to be devoted to the process and policy changes to be undertaken.
- During my previous visits to Moscow this year, President Putin and Prime Minister Medvedev reaffirmed their commitment to OECD accession, noting that it is a high-priority and a strategic goal for the Russian government. Last April, in Paris, First Deputy Prime Minister Shuvalov delivered a brilliant intervention at the OECD Council and convinced our Members of Russia’s resolve to carry the process forward to a successful outcome.
- The OECD stands ready to continue to support the Russian authorities in such an important endeavor both for Russia and for our Organization!
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