Shaping globalisation: the annual OECD summit

OECD Ministerial Council, 26-27 June 2000

Globalisation was the order of the day at this year’s annual OECD summit in Paris as ministers grappled with the problem of how to ensure that the benefits of the high-tech revolution are shared equally by both rich and poor worldwide.

We don’t have a choice as to whether or not to stop globalisation, Australian Treasurer Peter Costello, who chaired the meeting, told ministers. ¨Our choice is how to manage it and how to manage it for the benefit of our citizens.¨

Over two days ministers tackled a range of issues linked to globalisation, notably whether there is a high-tech driven new economy, and if so how to harness its advantages and avoid opening up a digital divide which would leave the developing world, and the disadvantaged in developed countries, ever further behind.

Discussions on trade liberalisation in the wake of the Seattle WTO meeting’s failure to launch a new global trade round focused on the need for political flexibility and the importance of giving the developing world a full place at the table. Ministers were unable to agree on a framework for untying aid to the world’s least developed countries, but said they would keep trying for an agreement.

The OECD demonstrated its commitment to greater involvement of civil society through the parallel hosting of the Forum 2000 at Paris-La Defense nearby. This incidentally demonstrated the advantages of a high-tech world as participants could follow sessions at both sites via a live television link and the Internet.

Electronic commerce also came under the spotlight, with the OECD planning several meetings in the coming year to discuss e-commerce-related issues such as taxation.

Discussions on updated guidelines for multinational enterprises went right down to the wire, but members reached agreement before the end of the meeting on what they see as a key element in a global framework of rules for a global economy.

OECD members also agreed to increase their numbers to a round 30 with the addition of the Slovak Republic, which attended the ministerial as an observer for the first time. The Slovak Republic signed an agreement on September 28 setting out the terms of its admission.

©OECD Observer No 223, October 2000 

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