Welcoming remarks by Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General
Paris, OECD Headquarters, 30 September 2010
It is a great honour for me to welcome the highest institutional figure of the Italian State.
A willingness to pursue political and economic initiatives that go beyond national boundaries is deeply rooted in the culture of the Italian people. Mr President, as the ambassador of this openness, the OECD, its Member countries and I welcome you here.
Your visit from across the Alps, which includes several major initiatives to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Italian Unification, coincides with the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the OECD. And while our own adventure has been of shorter duration, anniversaries such as these are a suitable occasion on which to launch new challenges. Having such a common denominator makes us feel even closer to Italy.
While the world economy is now in recovery, the way ahead still remains fraught. Our Economic Outlook (published in June) forecasts growth in the OECD area of around 2.8 per cent this year and next year. However, the most recent economic indicators suggest that economic activity will be weaker than expected.
Left to right: President of Italy Giorgio Napolitano, OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría and OECD's Chief Economist and Deputy-Secretary-General Pier Carlo Padoan.
Public deficits and debt have increased. The situation of the weakest members of the labour market has worsened. Concerns still remain over geographical imbalances in global demand. Output remains below pre-crisis levels.
While the financial structure of Italy has its strong points, particularly with regards to household savings, public debt has started to rise again during the recession. Targets must therefore be constantly monitored.
The OECD will continue to help both Italy and its Member countries face up to the current challenge, namely the need to combine budgetary discipline with a return to growth.
Allow me to mention three examples of such assistance.
In terms to world governance, we have helped with the launching, within the G20, of an ambitious programme of multilateral surveillance of macroeconomic and structural policies. We are actively working to help the G20 honour the promises made. Its credibility and efficiency will benefit from this effort.
In 2007, we initiated a program of Enhanced Engagement with the largest emerging economies (Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and South Africa). This ambitious project could lead to new countries joining the OECD, following this year’s accessions (Chile, Estonia, Israel and Slovenia) which effectively marked the start of the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the OECD.
Another tangible example is that of the Global Standard for propriety, integrity and transparency, which consists of a series of instruments drawn up by the OECD and other international institutions. The Global Standard
was one of the cornerstones of the Italian Presidency on the occasion of the recent meeting of the OECD Council at Ministerial Level.
Mr President, at the start of the new academic year, you said: “I have known many people who have regretted not having studied hard enough. I have never known anybody regret having studied too much”. By drawing strength from the diversity of its Members, the OECD will continue to improve itself in order to lend its support to global growth, including in collaboration with the other international fora.
I shall now hand over to you, Mr President. Our highest level officials, among whom Pier Carlo Padoan, Deputy Secretary-General and Chief Economist of the OECD, Aart de Geus, Deputy Secretary-General, Gabriela Ramos, the OECD’s Sherpa for the G20, as well as some of our Directors, will help me answer your questions. The Dean of OECD’s Ambassadors, Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues from Portugal, who also honours us with his presence today, will close the discussions.