Introductory remarks by Angel Gurría,
9 June 2015
(As prepared for delivery)
Dear President Bachelet, Ambassadors, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great honour to welcome President Bachelet once again to the OECD. Michelle Bachelet now comes back re-elected as President of Chile for the second time and this is great news, both for Chile and the OECD.
After 5 years of membership, Chile has become one of our most active and relevant members. In this lapse, the participation of Chilean delegates in our committees and working groups has been growing steadily. The OECD’s support for the Chilean government’s efforts to promote key reforms for inclusive growth has also intensified.
Chile has also become a strong supporter of our growing engagement with Latin America, promoting our Latin America Regional Programme and becoming a key partner within the Pacific Alliance ― a very interesting initiative that is being watched closely, as it gathers the top reformers and some of the most open countries in the region; an initiative that we are proud to be supporting.
Chile is already an international reference in many policy areas. Following a long period of strong economic growth, living standards in Chile have been catching up rapidly. The gap in per capita household disposable income relative to the OECD average has declined by more than 10% since the mid-1990s; relative poverty has fallen at a faster pace than in any other OECD country; and indicators of health and educational outcomes have improved considerably.
Despite this remarkable progress, gaps vis-à-vis other OECD countries continue to be considerable for some well-being dimensions. The quality of education is still relatively low; environmental quality is also lagging. There remains substantial room for progress in the areas of safety, housing and health. And the country suffers from large social disparities.
Chile and the OECD are working together to address these challenges through the promotion of major reforms.
President Bachelet has launched an ambitious tax reform to raise revenues for higher social spending. She has promoted a wide-ranging education reforms to make the education system more equitable, sending new bills to Congress to reform early childhood and pre-primary education and improve teacher career paths. She has also launched three ambitious agendas to reduce spatial inequalities, increase productivity and innovation, and promote energy for green growth.
The OECD is working hard, with the guidance and drive of Ambassador Serrano, to help the Government deliver in all these fields. In the course of 2014, we have started to work on 9 projects commissioned by Chile. We just produced a new Better Policies Series for Chile, on “Policy Priorities for Stronger and More Equitable Growth”, that we just gave to President Bachelet during a most productive bilateral meeting to move forward.
So let me congratulate President Bachelet and her government for all this meaningful work and for this ever growing partnership, reflected in last week’s MCM’s agreement that Chile will Chair the 2016 OECD Ministerial Meeting.
Let me also thank her, because she has been, institutionally but also politically, essential in the transformation of the OECD towards a more inclusive, open organisation. Her commitment to bring Chile to the OECD without leaving other groups and her reference to our Organisation as the "house of best practices" have helped to explain the true nature of a renewed OECD among our friends in the emerging world.
We are delighted to have Michelle Bachelet with us again. We very much look forward to listen to her views. And we offer her all our support and wish her and Chile the best of luck in promoting an impressive reform agenda (and, by the way, in hosting the Copa América in a few days, where I hope Chile and Mexico will meet in the final).
President Bachelet, the floor is yours!