- Economic perspectives and policy requirements: Ministers asked the Organisation to study the causes of the disparities in the cyclical situations in major OECD economies and to identify factors and policies which could strengthen long-term growth performance. Expressing concern at the continuing high levels of unemployment in some OECD countries, they agreed to continue to implement reforms consistent with the OECD Jobs Strategy, which aims in particular at promoting flexible labour markets in tandem with effective safety nets.
- Sustainable development: Global challenges, such as climate change, the sustainable management of natural resources and the conservation of biodiversity are key objectives for OECD countries. OECD countries will continue to co-operate with non-OECD countries to improve policy and institutional frameworks. OECD will report to Ministers, with policy re-commendations, in 2001.
- The multilateral system and the new WTO round: Ministers reaffirmed the multilateral trading system as a keystone of the world economy and endorsed the need of a new round; supported early accession of applicants to the WTO and increasing integration and participation of developing and transition countries in the multilateral trading system.
- Tax competition and money laundering: Ministers welcomed the establishment of the Forum on Harmful Tax Practices and looked forward to receiving a report on the identification of tax havens. They also welcomed the dialogue initiated between the OECD and the Financial Action Task Force to explore how anti-money laundering systems could contribute effectively to dealing with tax-related crime, without undermining the effectiveness of these systems.
- Electronic commerce: OECD's Action Plan on electronic commerce, endorsed in Ottawa in October 1998, was seen as a basis for further policy discussion and technical analysis in taxation, communication infrastructures, privacy and security. Ministers welcomed the follow-up conference to be held in October 1999.
- Agriculture: While progress has been made in agricultural policy reform, overall levels of support and protection remain high and trade disputes and tensions persist. It is necessary to pursue the long-term objective of substantial progressive reductions in support to this sector. Ministers endorsed the OECD's work on fisheries' sustainability.
- Biotechnology: It is essential to safeguard human health and the environment while enabling people to enjoy the benefits that flow from advances in biotechnology. The OECD was invited to continue its examination of the various dimensions of the issue.
- Good governance: Ministers requested the OECD to elaborate a proposal for a "good governance" initiative in order better to share the results of the Organisation's existing work in this field with interested non-member countries. Ministers endorsed the OECD Principles of Corporate Go-vernance and welcomed the completion of the Organisation's reviews of regulatory reform.
- Combating bribery: Ministers, through OECD, will actively monitor the effective implementation of the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials, which entered into force on 1999. They urged all signatory governments which have not yet done so to ratify the Convention and fully implement it.
- Relations with non-members: Ministers underlined the need for deepened policy dialogue and welcomed the Special Dialogue with non-members (see above). The OECD remains open to new members sharing the same values, while remaining selective and preserving its high standards for membership. Ministers looked forward to the conclusion of the process of accession of the Slovak Republic to the Organisation.
- South Eastern Europe: Ministers pledged the OECD's active participation in the efforts of the international community through its contribution in advising the affected states in the region on the development of macroeconomic, structural and social policies, legal and institutional frameworks and promoting integration into the regional and global economy. The OECD's co-operation with countries in the region should be strengthened, and the Organisation should launch, when practicable, programmes with other affected countries.
- Development: Ministers welcomed the strengthened dialogue with multilateral institutions to improve aid co-ordination. They noted the downward trend of official development assistance over recent years, and regretted that, despite some progress, the conditions were not yet fulfilled to conclude an agreement on untying aid.
For the complete communiqué, consult: http://www.oecd.org/news_and_events/releases/nw99-52a.htm
©OECD Observer No 217/218, Summer 1999