Opening remarks by Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General, at the Africa Partnership Forum
Tokyo, 7 April 2008
Ministers, distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen:
It gives me great pleasure to participate in your discussions today. The APF is doing important work, and the OECD is pleased to be the host of the Support Unit, which provides a strong pillar for OECD’s expanding work with Africa. African and OECD officials and experts are now systematically sharing good practices across a very wide range of policy areas – from investment, taxation and budget systems, to the fight against corruption, the improvement of education and climate change. This is an important contribution to the new, more open character of the OECD, as it ensures that its analytical work and policy insights are relevant to a globalised world economy.
Emerging economies are changing the dynamics of global trade, investment and production systems. Innovative technologies, novel products and services, and new markets offer potential for growth and prosperity for all – not just a privileged few. There are new frontiers for trade and investment – and Africa is clearly one of them.
Africa is growing, in many cases at a faster rate than OECD countries. There is a rising middle class, and a new generation of innovative entrepreneurs is emerging. We very much hope this inspiring trend will continue.
There are also new challenges that know no borders – disease, climate change, migration, water scarcity. The difficult and complex economic context in which our discussions are taking place is a case in point. Not only because a significant economic downturn in developed countries is becoming more certain – but there is also the worrying surge in international oil and food prices. This will be particularly devastating for poorer countries, including those in Africa, if we are not vigilant.
These changes and challenges place a premium on enhanced communication and co-operation across nations. It is vitally important to create opportunities and “space” for dialogue, for sharing knowledge and experience, and – perhaps most importantly – for building trust. The Africa Partnership Forum provides a valuable opportunity for discussion in this regard.
Your dialogue is paving the way to improve our collective understanding and agree on next steps. Ensuring stable and equitable growth, durable poverty reduction, trade opportunities, access to innovation, technology and markets, energy and food security, adaptation to climate change, and win-win migration – all call for common visions, shared commitments, and collective action.
Thus, it is important to communicate your messages on growth, poverty reduction and climate change to others – such as TICAD, the G8, and UN climate change negotiations. APF members must follow through with agreed commitments and actions. I urge you to continue this dialogue, which is playing an important role in strengthening international co-operation and laying the foundations for improved global governance. The OECD and the Support Unit of the African Partnership Forum are ready to play their part.
I look forward to this morning’s discussions.