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OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría stressed the OECD’s commitment to help governments better address the negative consequences of globalisation while preserving the benefits of open economies and societies worldwide. Mr Gurría pointed to the Organisation’s coming Ministerial Council Meeting (7-8 June) as

an opportunity for OECD countries to agree on policy options that can help them take full advantage of the potential of economic integration and technological progress so that they deliver a better outcome for everyone. A greater voice for citizens in shaping the global policies that affect them will also be critical to reconnect people with institutions. 

Mr Gurría was in Copenhagen to hold a series of meetings to prepare the OECD’s annual Ministerial meeting, which will be chaired by Denmark and takes place in Paris back to back with the annual OECD Forum (6-7 June). Besides meeting with Prime Minister Rasmussen and members of his government, the Secretary-General held consultations with representatives of trade unions and business to gather their views and suggestions ahead of the Paris meeting. He also delivered remarks to the conference “Making globalisation work for all” held at the Danish Stock Exchange (full text and some excerpts below.)

The remarks were accompanied by the release of an OECD policy brochure titled “Fixing Globalisation: Time to Make it Work for All”. This document outlines the Organisation’s preliminary analysis of globalisation’s benefits and challenges. While stressing that a retreat from globalisation would be damaging, it underlines the need for urgent policy responses to support inclusive growth and tackle growing inequalities, wealth concentration and lack of opportunities for many. It stresses the need to adopt policies that, besides boosting productivity growth, ensure inclusiveness. This productivity/inequality “nexus” is key to enable people, particularly at the bottom of the income distribution, to fulfil their full potential. He underlined the importance of robust social protection systems, active labour market policies, and fairer, more effective and progressive tax systems. He also called for measures to ensure healthy financial markets that are better linked to the real economy, as well as for strategic investments in education, skills, health, innovation and physical infrastructure, so no individual is left behind. Policies are also needed to support SME and regional development. There is a strong need for an “empowering state” to allow for this inclusive globalisation to happen.

The document highlights that fixing globalisation will also require firmer action to ensure open and fair trade and stronger rules of globalisation and international standards to ensure a level playing field. This includes competition-enabling frameworks that help deal with “winner-take-most” dynamics, ensure market access, advance more effective corporate governance rules, responsible business conduct, and a decisive fight against bribery and corruption, tax evasion and tax avoidance. International adherence to and implementation of OECD standards in these areas can be improved, the report says.

Finally, the publication calls for improvements in public governance to better design and implement policies, adapting them better to each country’s challenges and for strengthening the democratic debate and allowing for greater engagement with stakeholders in the international policy-making process.

 Excerpts from Secretary-General Gurría’s Copenhagen remarks:  “Globalisation is a means to an end, not an end in itself. … It is worth defending, but we may only succeed in doing so if we ensure that its benefits are more widely shared.” Despite the clear net benefits of globalisation, there is a widespread feeling in some OECD economies that those benefits have been concentrated in a few hands … And citizens have been expressing their discontent in the ballot box.”

“Is globalisation to blame for the stagnation of middle-class incomes in some advanced economies and the widening disparities of income and wealth? We can’t yet be sure, but there are some plausible mechanisms through which it may have contributed.” “… it is difficult to disentangle globalisation from other factors, especially technological change. And we may not have the luxury of awaiting further study to pin down the causes of the problem. If we don’t respond to the concerns being expressed by our citizens, we risk seeing a damaging retreat from openness.”

 

“Attempts to ‘fix’ globalisation will only succeed if they are set in the context of a narrative of inclusive growth.” “This is our chance to act decisively in order to preserve openness and multilateralism. This is the time to bring the analysis, the policies and the energy, to ensure that globalisation works for all.”

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