Thank you for your welcome, and thank you to the Washington International Trade Association for hosting today’s event. The OECD is a longstanding advocate of open markets. I am delighted to be among so many ‘‘friends of trade’’ to share the OECD’s latest data, analysis and reflections on developments in the global trade landscape.
SMEs typically account for more than half of business sector activity and around two-thirds of employment. Young SMEs, in particular, contribute disproportionately to creating jobs. Yet business dynamics have been slowing in most of our economies, limiting SMEs’ contributions to investment, growth, jobs and social inclusion, at a moment when they are sorely needed.
The OECD will draw on its multidisciplinary expertise, data, and tools – along with our ground-breaking work on climate finance, fossil fuel subsidy reform, measuring effective carbon prices, and policy alignment for a low-carbon economy – to deliver timely and evidence-based insights for this project, which has four main objectives.
We see important synergies between the OECD’s work on SMEs and the agenda of the WSF. By joining forces, the OECD and WSF - along with other partners - can help foster SMEs’ contributions to inclusive and sustainable economies.
In a world beset by uncertain economic prospects, stronger innovation performance is essential to boosting productivity growth and job creation, and to addressing global challenges like climate change, pandemics and ageing populations. But how do we make innovation happen?
During these difficult years, productivity growth has slowed down, reviving fears that we are now entering a period of poor growth and low job creation. One of the main challenges facing our countries is what to do to re-launch productivity, the main factor of long-term growth, and how to do it. This has been the focus of the report we are launching today entitled “The Future of Productivity”.
Small and medium-sized enterprises are crucial for tracing new paths to more sustainable and inclusive growth, thanks to their role in providing employment. In the OECD area, SMEs provide the main source of employment and value creation, accounting for about 60 to 70% of employment and more than 50% of value added.
Investment is one of the central engines of growth. But we don’t just need investment, we need intelligent investment. We need investment that fosters green growth, we need investment that supports innovation and entrepreneurship.
This edition of the Forum is called “By Africa, For Africa”. The choice of title underscores the importance of African citizens, African companies and African governments as drivers of the development process. The OECD is here to listen, to engage, and to strengthen this unique partnership with Africa and its institutions.
This Global Forum plays an important role as the tool for on-going dialogue on responsible business conduct. I am pleased to announce that today, Ministers from over 20 countries are coming together to discuss how to integrate responsibility considerations throughout government policies. Their work will contribute to protect internationally recognised fundamental rights and to ensure good governance, fair regulations, and transparency.