Remarks by Angel Gurría
3 September 2020 - Paris, France
(As prepared for delivery)
Minister Adams, Ambassadors, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Welcome to our Seventh Annual Meeting of the Partnership for Effective Rulemaking by International Organisations (the IO Partnership). Let me thank all of you for joining us under these exceptional circumstances.
Today’s meeting is perhaps the most important we have had so far. The COVID-19 pandemic, and the associated social and economic impacts, have brought the world to a standstill. The wounds run deep. The 6% contraction in global GDP that we project for 2020 in our most recent Economic Outlook is the largest in the 60 years of OECD’s existence. And in case of a second wave of infections, global GDP could decline by more than 7.5%.
This unprecedented challenge comes at a time when the multilateral system is strained and suffering a major trust deficit. We need to restore this trust. Trust in the governments and multilateral institutions that are supposed to defend their rights, as well as to protect them from the pandemic and its dire economic and social consequences.
This crisis is also an opportunity to show the value and effectiveness of international co-operation. International organisations have reacted swiftly to serve their members during the crisis.
The OECD has reacted swiftly and effectively. It launched a Digital Hub on Tackling the Coronavirus, providing a single entry point to the OECD’s analysis on the economic and social impacts of COVID-19. To date, we have published over 235 policy briefs in virtually all areas of our work, from health, macroeconomic analysis, labour market and social policies, to trade, education, SMEs, tourism and taxation. We are also actively working with non-OECD countries, notably through our Development Centre and our regional programmes, as well as in partnerships with other international and regional organisations such as ASEAN, ECLAC, IDB, OAS and CAF.
We are also adapting our tools to the new COVID-19 reality. Our recently adopted OECD Recommendations on Consumer Product Safety and on the Governance of Infrastructure take account of the impact of COVID-19, such as in the context of increased online purchases. The 2012 OECD Recommendation on the Governance of Clinical Trials helps facilitate international co-operation in clinical trials on medicinal products, particularly relevant in the quest for safe and effective COVID-19 treatments. The crisis and response will be important factors going forward in the development, review and revision of OECD standards – such as in the area of tourism, a sector especially hard hit by the pandemic.
And we are strengthening our efforts to promote more transparent and effective international regulatory co-operation. As highlighted in our recent policy brief on The International Regulatory Co-operation Response to the COVID-19 Crisis, such co-operation can help manage cross-border risks, promote work-sharing and pooling of resources and knowledge across government for more effective policy responses at lesser costs, and reduce barriers to trade in essential goods.
For instance, we need to strengthen our co-operation to reach a consensus-based solution to the tax challenges arising from the digitalisation of the economy. Patience is wearing thin as the crisis and the containment measures have resulted in the activities and profits of a number of digital companies skyrocketing. Failure to deliver a political agreement comes with serious risks of escalating tax and trade tensions, which would further undermine the global economy.
I am pleased to welcome the Statement that sets out critical actions by the secretariats of the international organisations of the IO Partnership, to strive for effective, impactful and co-ordinated international rulemaking.
The OECD is committed to implementing the actions of the Statement, and in particular, to continue working for the collaborative development of a “Compendium for International Organisations for Effective International Rule-making”, a guiding tool to ensure that the norms that we develop for our members and beyond are effective, impactful, and meet the increasing demands for transparency, inclusiveness and co-ordination.
Each of us here has a role to play in creating an effective, multilateral, rules-based system, as well as in making sure that governments co-ordinate their actions to deliver “better policies for better lives” worldwide.
This means investing in multilateral solutions to end today’s global health and economic crisis, and to prevent tomorrow’s crises. The IO Partnership has allowed us to reflect together on our weaknesses and build on our strengths. This crisis is an opportunity to show its value as a unique and essential forum to learn from each other and undertake common actions towards our common objectives.
Count on the OECD to continue supporting the work of the IO Partnership. Thank you.