Facing forward together

Lessons from the 1999 Ministerial Council
Few of us could have foreseen, back in 1994 when Mexico joined the OECD, that only five years later we would have the opportunity to chair the Organisation's most important annual event. Mexico welcomed this opportunity, which we regard as an acknowledgement of our firm commitment to the OECD and of our country's progress in promoting economic and structural reform over the past few years. It was my privilege as Mexico's minister of finance to chair the OECD ministerial council, the summit in the OECD calendar, held on May 26 and 27 in Paris, alongside Giuliano Amato of Italy and Poland's vice-prime minister, Leszek Balcerowicz.
The dialogue and the consultations that take place at these yearly gatherings are crucial for the definition of the Organisation's agenda. They also provided an opportunity for busy governments to exchange views about current developments in the world economy and, in particular, to discuss issues of economic co-operation and development that enhance the policy making process of member countries and foster greater co-ordination among them.I do not wish to elaborate on the conclusions and policy recommendations that emerged from our meeting – they are by now widely known and are summarised elsewhere. Rather, I should like to focus on two points which seem to me to pose particular challenges to the work of the OECD.In my view, one of the greatest challenges faced by our Organisation stems from ever increasing global interdependence. The time when OECD member countries could seek to influence world economic affairs in relative isolation has gone for good. In recent years the Organisation has sought to meet that challenge in a number of ways, which include an enhanced dialogue with non-members and the addition of new members, such as Mexico, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Korea. The OECD is evolving, as it must do, in order to keep up with ongoing developments in the global economy. Economic and financial developments over the past years have proven that economic interdependence reaches well beyond the OECD's present membership.In other words, we are all in the same boat and we need to work together if we wish to ensure that our sailing goes smoothly. Thus, one feature that made this Ministerial meeting particularly significant was the special dialogue held with ministers from seven non-member countries, an initiative that Mexico was proud to launch. The non-members attending the summit were Argentina, Brazil, India, China, Indonesia, Russia and the Slovak Republic. They are all key players in the world economic stage and their role in the global economy is likely to increase over the coming years. The special dialogue allowed all participants to share their views on the world economic outlook and on global policy challenges related to the promotion of growth, sustainable development and social cohesion.This innovative tool of communication is in itself an acknowledgement that globalisation is irreversible and that the work of the Organisation must take greater account of the views of non-member countries. The second point that I believe has particular relevance to our work is the need to view social cohesion as a central goal of economic policy. Despite the economic and social progress achieved by most OECD countries, it is still necessary to extend those benefits to millions of our citizens. This involves the need to reduce the high levels of unemployment that prevail in some member countries while providing adequate safety nets. But it also involves the need to ensure that all members of society have a stake and receive a fair share of the fruits of growth and development. It is important to remind ourselves that the ultimate goal of our policies is to promote not just economic growth but, above all, social well-being. In the words of Donald Johnston, secretary-general of the OECD, we are "building momentum for global growth and social progress into the new millennium" where economic growth, good governance and social cohesion will be essential to reach a virtuous circle. Dialogue, co-operation and shared responsibility will be the main elements of this circle.I look back on this ministerial with great satisfaction. I feel proud for the contribution that Mexico was able to make. We have confirmed once again the value of this common house, the OECD, where we can learn from each other and through a better understanding of our needs and concerns, continue to face the challenges ahead together. Only then will we be able to strengthen the capacity of our economies to adjust under a changing international environment.José Ángel Gurría is Mexico's minister of finance and public credit. Mr Gurría chaired the 1999 OECD ministerial conference.NB: On 30 November 2005, Ángel Gurría was appointed as secretary-general of the OECD to succeed Donald Johnston from June 2006. For more detail, please click press release.(Note added to this page on 30 November 2005.)

Economic data

GDP growth: +0.6% Q1 2019 year-on-year
Consumer price inflation: 2.3% May 2019 annual
Trade: +0.4% exp, -1.2% imp, Q1 2019
Unemployment: 5.2% July 2019
Last update: 8 July 2019

OECD Observer Newsletter

Stay up-to-date with the latest news from the OECD by signing up for our e-newsletter :

Twitter feed

Subscribe now

<b>Subscribe now!</b>

To order your own paper editions,email Observer@OECD.org

Online edition
Previous editions

Don't miss

  • MCM logo
  • The following communiqué and Chair’s statement were issued at the close of the OECD Council Meeting at Ministerial level, this year presided by the Slovak Republic.
  • Food production will suffer some of the most immediate and brutal effects of climate change, with some regions of the world suffering far more than others. Only through unhindered global trade can we ensure that high-quality, nutritious food reaches those who need it most, Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the OECD, and José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, write in their latest Project Syndicate article. Read the article here.
  • Globalisation will continue and get stronger, and how to harness it is the great challenge, says OECD Secretary-General Gurría on Bloomberg TV. Watch the interview here.
  • OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría with UN Secretary-General António Guterres at the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly, in New York City.
  • The new OECD Observer Crossword, with Myles Mellor. Try it online!
  • Listen to the "Robots are coming for our jobs" episode of The Guardian's "Chips with Everything podcast", in which The Guardian’s economics editor, Larry Elliott, and Jeremy Wyatt, a professor of robotics and artificial intelligence at the University of Birmingham, and Jordan Erica Webber, freelance journalist, discuss the findings of the new OECD report "Automation, skills use and training". Listen here.
  • Do we really know the difference between right and wrong? Alison Taylor of BSR and Susan Hawley of Corruption Watch tell us why it matters to play by the rules. Watch the recording of our Facebook live interview here.
  • Has public decision-making been hijacked by a privileged few? Watch the recording of our Facebook live interview with Stav Shaffir, MK (Zionist Union) Chair of the Knesset Committee on Transparency here.
  • Can a nudge help us make more ethical decisions? Watch the recording of our Facebook live interview with Saugatto Datta, managing director at ideas42 here.
  • The fight against tax evasion is gaining further momentum as Barbados, Côte d’Ivoire, Jamaica, Malaysia, Panama and Tunisia signed the BEPS Multilateral Convention on 24 January, bringing the total number of signatories to 78. The Convention strengthens existing tax treaties and reduces opportunities for tax avoidance by multinational enterprises.
  • Globalisation’s many benefits have been unequally shared, and public policy has struggled to keep up with a rapidly-shifting world. The OECD is working alongside governments and international organisations to help improve and harness the gains while tackling the root causes of inequality, and ensuring a level playing field globally. Please watch.
  • Checking out the job situation with the OECD scoreboard of labour market performances: do you want to know how your country compares with neighbours and competitors on income levels or employment?
  • Trade is an important point of focus in today’s international economy. This video presents facts and statistics from OECD’s most recent publications on this topic.
  • The OECD Gender Initiative examines existing barriers to gender equality in education, employment, and entrepreneurship. The gender portal monitors the progress made by governments to promote gender equality in both OECD and non-OECD countries and provides good practices based on analytical tools and reliable data.
  • Interested in a career in Paris at the OECD? The OECD is a major international organisation, with a mission to build better policies for better lives. With our hub based in one of the world's global cities and offices across continents, find out more at www.oecd.org/careers .
  • Visit the OECD Gender Data Portal. Selected indicators shedding light on gender inequalities in education, employment and entrepreneurship.

Most Popular Articles

OECD Insights Blog

NOTE: All signed articles in the OECD Observer express the opinions of the authors
and do not necessarily represent the official views of OECD member countries.

All rights reserved. OECD 2019