Launch of the OECD Initiative for South Caucasus and Ukraine


Opening Remarks by Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General, delivered at the Ministerial Meeting launching the Initiative


Paris, 1 April 2009

Your Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

On behalf of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), I am very pleased to join the Deputy Foreign Minister of Poland, Mr. Pawel Wojciechowski, and H.E. Mr. Mats Ringborg, the Ambassador of Sweden to the OECD, who represent the co-chairs of the South Caucasus and Ukraine Initiative, in welcoming you to Paris.  I would also like to extend my gratitude to the Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic, Mr. Milan Hovorka, and the representatives of the European Commission for the collaboration of European Union Presidency and the Commission with this OECD Initiative.

Over the past few years, the economies of the South Caucasus and Ukraine have enjoyed double-digit rates of economic growth.  Inward investment flows have increased over six times since 2000 to reach almost 10 billion USD in 2008.  However, FDI is mainly concentrated in the energy sector and still significantly lower per capita than in Central and Eastern Europe.

The global financial crisis has stalled GDP growth and investment flows to the region have slowed down. To sustain economic growth, the countries of the South Caucasus and Ukraine have recognised that they must develop their private sectors and build knowledge-based economies to become more competitive and attract more investment. The OECD Initiative for South Caucasus and Ukraine will support your efforts and help generate productive employment, rebalance growing trade deficits and achieve sustainable economic development.

The OECD is ready to share with your governments the knowledge, experience and best practices of our members to help you create a sound business climate for investment; enhance productivity; support entrepreneurship and ultimately raise living standards and alleviate poverty. OECD tools will help you identify and remove barriers, in such important policy areas as investment climate policy and promotion, business finance and human capital formation.

The OECD method of working -- learning from the experience of other countries and using instruments and standards that have already helped others improve their performance --  is something that has already been successful in other regions such as the Middle East and North Africa, and South East Europe.  Today we are launching in partnership with your governments the new OECD Initiative for the South Caucasus and Ukraine.

I am convinced that this Initiative will help you to improve competitiveness and increase prosperity in your countries. From the high-level of representation around the table I can see that you also believe that by working together win this Initiative we can create worthwhile change.

I wish you a very productive discussion today.

Thank you.