The OECD has 34 Member countries. Other countries and economies may be invited to participate in any of the Organisation's 35 Committees and other main bodies. These countries will be referred to as Partners. To determine which Partners should be invited, each Committee is required to formulate a Global Relations Strategy.
Partners can be invited in three different capacities:
- Invitees are invited to one meeting at a time, for non-confidential items only. A Committee needs a one-off clearance from Council to invite a certain Partner as Invitee and may then decide if and when it wishes to invite this Partner;
- Participants are entitled to be invited to all the Committee's non-confidential meetings;
- Associates participate in a Committee, a project or the development or revision of a legal instrument with the same rights and obligations as OECD Members. However, they may not attend discussions on the accession of new Members to the Organisation.
On the basis of its Global Relations strategy, each Committee will draw up a Participation Plan, for approval by Council. These Plans identify the Partners and the capacity in which they have been invited. The Plans also specify the conditions to be met by Associates and the fee they have to pay.
Council has designated Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and South Africa as Key Partners of the OECD. All Committees are expected to engage with these countries and can invite them as Invitee or Participant without prior Council approval. Inviting Key Partners as Associates still requires approval by Council.
Invitees and Participants are expected to participate actively in the Committee's meetings and, for Participants, in other Committee work and by providing the information which the Committee may require. Associates are expected to meet the same conditions, but also to make a commitment to the Committee's goals, practices and high standards, demonstrated by their policies and by adhering to the main legal instruments for which the Committee is responsible.
- Invitees do not pay fees. Participants and Associates do. The fees are indexed annually in accordance with inflation in the OECD's host country, France (the amounts below apply in 2014):
- Participants pay a fee of 10,800 euros per year for a Committee or 3,600 euros for a Working Party if they do not participate its parent Committee.
- Associates pay a fee which the Committee may set at either 20,400 or 51,100 euros a year, provided all its Associates pay the same amount. However, in some Committees, Associates pay fees that are calculated on the same basis as Members' contributions to the Committee's budget. This is particularly the case for Committees in which Members' participation is optional ("Part II bodies"). Finally, Associates in certain projects may also be required to pay fees.
Invitations as Participant or Associate are usually issued for open-ended periods, although exceptions may apply. The OECD or the Partner itself may terminate a Partner's status with a 12-months' notice. The OECD may also terminate this status immediately if the Partner repeatedly fails to meet its obligations, including the payment of its fees.