• Shaping globalisation:
Ministers recognised the serious concerns felt by many at the economic and technological changes in the transition to an increasingly knowledge-based, interdependent world. Ministers warned against creating a “digital divide” within countries or between the developed and developing world. The OECD will produce a major study in 2001 on whether a “new economy” is taking shape, and if so how governments need to adjust their policies.
• Sustainable development:
Global challenges, such as climate change, conservation of biodiversity and sustainable management of natural resources, are key objectives for OECD countries. The OECD will make a significant contribution towards advancing the international agenda on sustainable development for the “Rio+10” meeting in 2002.
• Social cohesion:
The OECD will help governments ensure that all groups in society, particularly the disadvantaged, can adapt to and benefit from economic change. OECD education ministers will make recommendations on education and training in the hi-tech economy at their meeting in April.
• Electronic commerce:
International co-operation is essential to formulate coherent policy approaches to e-commerce given its rapidly-increasing impact on productivity and growth. The OECD will co-sponsor a conference in December on dispute resolution and host a conference in January on key e-commerce policy issues. The OECD will co-sponsor a global conference in 2001 on tax administration and e-commerce. Ministers will receive a progress report on tax issues raised by e-commerce at their next meeting.
• Trade liberalisation:
Further trade liberalisation in a rules-based multilateral system is the best way to realise the promise of a “new economy” and support poverty reduction and sustained development. Determined to work for the launch as soon as possible of an ambitious, balanced and broad-based WTO Round, ministers called for strong political will and greater flexibility on all sides, particularly in addressing the concerns of developing countries.
Ministers called for participants to agree an understanding on a new export credit arrangement by the end of the year. Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to substantial, progressive reductions in support and protection for farmers. Ministers called for international action to rebuild overexploited fish stocks to sustainable levels.
Good, effective public governance is needed in a globalised economy to strengthen democracy and human rights, promote prosperity and social cohesion, reduce poverty, enhance environmental protection and deepen confidence in government and public administration. The OECD will report progress on its Governance Outreach Initiative in 2001. Ministers welcomed the updated Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.
The fight against corruption is a high priority. Ministers called for monitoring of enforcement of the Bribery Convention to begin as soon as possible and said bribery of foreign public officials should be made a serious crime under money laundering legislation. Ministers called for more countries to join the effort to eliminate hard-core cartels.
• Harmful tax practices:
Ministers reconfirmed their countries’ commitments to remove harmful practices from their preferential regimes by April 2003. They will draw up by July 31, 2001 a list of uncooperative tax havens, which could be subject to defensive measures. The OECD has identified 35 tax havens and will assist co-operative jurisdictions to meet international standards as they eliminate harmful tax practices.
Because of the growing importance of biotechnology and its far-reaching consequences for human health, agro-food production and sustainable development, the OECD will consider holding a conference in 2001 to address the environmental impacts of genetically modified organisms. The OECD will also continue to undertake analytical work on the food safety aspects.
• Development co-operation:
The OECD will develop guidelines on poverty reduction to help developing countries take full advantage of the opportunities of globalisation. Ministers regretted that DAC members had been unable to reach a consensus on untying aid to the least developed countries and urged that discussions continue aimed at reaching agreement as soon as possible.
• Co-operation with non-members:
The OECD must deepen and extend its relations with non-OECD economies. The OECD must remain open to membership by countries sharing the same values. Ministers welcomed the Forum 2000 as a major step forward in openness and asked the secretary-general to develop options for strengthening consultation and dialogue with civil society.
• Slovak Republic:
Ministers agreed that the accession procedure of the Slovak Republic should be completed as soon as possible.
• South Eastern Europe:
Strong determination by the countries in the region to reform their economies and societies, and a sustained commitment by OECD countries to co-operate with them, are needed to build a strong, democratic region. Ministers pledged the continuing active support of their countries to the OECD’s work in South Eastern Europe.Social cohesion: The OECD will help governments ensure that all groups in society, particularly the disadvantaged, can adapt to and benefit from economic change. OECD education ministers will make recommendations on education and training in the hi-tech economy at their meeting in April.
©OECD Observer No 223, October 2000