OECD Secretary-General

Asian Financial Forum, 18 January 2021


Remarks by Angel Gurría,

Secretary-General, OECD

Paris, 18 January 2021
Transcript of Video Message

I am pleased to address the 2021 Asian Financial Forum, “Reshaping the World Economic Landscape”.

Last year, we faced an unprecedented global health challenge and the worst recession since World War II. As vaccine rollouts begin, the prospects for 2021 are brighter, with global growth projected to reach 4.2%. Nonetheless, the future remains uncertain. If mass immunisation is slower than expected, global growth may be limited to 1.5%.

To build back better, the OECD is working with our Asian partners. Through our Southeast Asia Regional Programme (SEARP), we have fostered regional integration and structural reform to ensure a resilient and inclusive recovery. This includes support for ASEAN’s Comprehensive Recovery Framework and APEC’s Putrajaya Vision 2040.

We are proud to count Japan and Korea among our Members, and we are working with Thailand and Viet Nam on country programmes. Our standards, bodies and contributions to global fora, including APEC and the G20, are helping deliver common solutions to shared concerns – from fighting tax evasion and climate change to tackling trade and investment distortions.

We have organised webinars on policy priorities for the Asian region in the COVID-19 context, including resilient infrastructure, global value chains and protectionism, SME support, and skills. And our COVID-19 Hub continues to grow, with over 180 policy briefs in virtually all our areas of work, many of which are very relevant for our Asian partners.

Looking ahead, our efforts are focused on coordinating country and regional responses to COVID-19. Let me highlight four priorities.

  • First, designing and implementing stronger investment policies. Through our Investment Policy Reviews, the OECD has helped countries improve their investment climate. New Zealand – the 2021 APEC Chair – has prioritised investment facilitation. The OECD will continue supporting this priority through our expertise on investment policy trends and investment screening mechanisms, as well as through the FDI Regulatory Restrictiveness Index, to which China has been a regular contributor.
  • Second, helping companies manage business risks. The OECD’s Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) and Business Integrity programmes are helping companies manage risks by aligning them with OECD standards. This support focuses on due diligence in the financial sector and expanding the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. The Guidelines are a unique tool that provide the institutional and legal framework to advance the RBC agenda domestically and abroad.
  • Third, helping advance the region’s integration through trade and investment. Working together with ASEAN, APEC and individual partner economies, the OECD has expanded its measurement of services trade restrictions in the region. The OECD Services Trade Restrictiveness Index (STRI) — for which an update will be released at the end of January — now includes nine major Asian economies. The OECD is also supporting efforts to measure the services regulatory environment in APEC and ASEAN using the STRI model. We are very encouraged by the recent commitment to economic integration in the region through the new Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade agreement.
  • Our co-operation with China on services trade has promoted open markets for trade and investment. China is also a regular contributor to the OECD Trade in Value-Added (TiVA) database and is integrated into the OECD Trade Facilitation Indicators.
  • Finally, accelerating regional co-operation and promoting Asia’s digital development. COVID-19 will cause lasting transformations, many of which should benefit firms that enable online and technology-based services. Our latest Economic Outlook for Southeast Asia, China and India examines effective fiscal and monetary policies and highlights the prospects of digital tools for the recovery. The crisis is also expected to accelerate regional co-operation in these areas. ASEAN and ASEAN+3 Leaders should therefore focus on refining their financial integration and liberalisation, e-commerce, and digital infrastructure strategies.

Dear Friends:

As we enter 2021, let’s not forget the major lesson of 2020: the world is fully integrated. Challenges don’t have borders. The only way out of this crisis is by working together!

Rest assured that the OECD will continue to work with ASEAN, APEC, and all our Asian partners and stakeholders to “build back better” for a more resilient, sustainable and inclusive future.

Thank you.


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