President Michelle Bachelet of Chile and OECD Secretary General Angel Gurría ©Julien Daniel / OECD

The 2016 OECD Ministerial Council Meeting (MCM) was held at the OECD headquarters in Paris on Wednesday and Thursday 1-2 June 2016, back to back with the OECD Forum, which started on 31 May (www.oecd.org/forum).

OECD

The role played by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in our economies and societies is very significant. In most cases crucial. In OECD countries, SMEs represent approximately 99% of all firms. They provide the main source of employment, accounting for about 60% of jobs in the manufacturing sector and 75% in services, and generating between 50% and 60% of value added on average. In emerging economies, SMEs contribute up to 45% of total employment and 33% of GDP.

©OECD

In 1969, when Finland became an OECD member, you were delicately balancing between the West and the East. Finland’s road to prosperity was neither obvious nor predetermined. Per capita income was almost 30% lower than in Sweden. 

©Serprix

At some point in just about everyone’s life, we are affected by poor mental health.­ In the EU an estimated 1 in every 6 people experience a mental health problem. In Finland, which has the highest estimated incidence of mental disorders in the EU, close to 1 in 5 are affected. Mental illness has a high economic cost–the cost of treatment, social security programmes, lower employment and lost productivity add up to a total average of 4% of GDP in EU countries. In Finland it is higher still: an estimated 5.3% of GDP in 2016.

Ian Goldin with OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría ©OECD

Ian Goldin is the Oxford University Professor of Globalisation and Development, the Director of the Oxford Martin Programme on Technological and Economic Change and the founding Director of the Oxford Martin School.

OECD

In Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s novel Il Gattopardo (The Leopard)character Tancredi Falconeri famously says: “If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change.” The Sicilian aristocracy he represents has only one way to preserve its privileges against Garibaldi’s “Risorgimento”: change things on the surface so that in practice nothing changes at all.

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Now is an opportune time to deploy effective fiscal initiatives and promote inclusive trade policies.

©David Rooney

Three out of four people access the Internet everyday across the OECD. But one-third of those daily users don't yet buy online. Why not? According to a 2014 consumer survey the top two concerns reported by EU Internet shoppers are the misuse of personal data and security of online payments. 

This year London’s population overtook its historical high of 8.6 million reached at the outset of the Second World War, bucking the trend of many European and North American cities, which have experienced only slight, or even negative, growth. Compared to other global cities, London is inching forward, with only nine new residents per hour, compared to double that number in São Paulo and over 70 in Delhi, Kinshasa and Dhaka. Nonetheless, London will accommodate a million more people by 2030.

©Ivan Alvarado/REUTERS

The world cannot resolve today’s development challenges with purely national approaches. We need to complement them with local approaches, too. We live in an era of enormous transformations, in which our traditional political structures and forms of democratic participation must adapt. That means casting a bigger focus than ever on the important role of local power and communities. Local territories and cities are essential players in the pursuit of a just and sustainable development, and their voices must be given more sway in international forums.

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Case studies of specific products, particularly in the electronics industry, show that value creation along a global value chain tends to be unevenly distributed among activities. The highest value creation is found in upstream activities, such as the development of a new concept, research and development (R&D) and the manufacturing of key components. But it is also found in downstream activities, such as marketing, branding and customer service.

©Christian Charisius/Reuters

The world economy has become more complex, with global value chains and myriad interconnections among producers across continents. This has an impact on trade and investment policy, as well as on development, and exposes the shortcomings of the usual way of measuring trade.

The cost of mistrust

Trust is at the heart of today’s complex global economy. But, paradoxically, trust is also in increasingly short supply in many of our societies, especially in our attitudes towards big business, parliaments and governments. This decline threatens our capacity to tackle some of today’s key challenges.

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©Norwegian government

Ultimately the economic crisis is about people, says Espen Barth Eide, Norway’s minister of foreign affairs. That is why respecting human rights and adherence to democratic principles are fundamental when addressing the current economic crisis. We are in this together, so we need multilateral solutions more than ever.

The OECD has transformed itself into a policy pathleader on a whole range of public policies–national, regional and local–with the avowed aim of promoting human progress. But is the new OECD a child or a prisoner of its past?

©REUTERS/Amr Dalsh

The media is changing, but must assume a leading role in the unfolding narrative of the information world. That includes building trust and involving new voices in the discussion.

The future will be inherently knowledge-based. Are we moving in the right direction? What must we know to be able to get there? Understanding knowledge-based capital is an important first step.

©Reuters/Stringer Mexico

Nearly two decades ago, in May 1994, Mexico became the first Latin American country to join the OECD. Not long after, in 1996, the secretary general of the OECD at the time, Jean-Claude Paye and the then Mexican minister of foreign affairs and current secretary-general, Angel Gurría, opened the OECD Mexico Centre. Initially, our job was to promote OECD publications in Mexico and throughout Latin America. But that mission has grown since, to include “disseminating, promoting and making accessible better policies, to governments, economic and social actors throughout Latin America, for better lives of their citizens”. 

In a globalised world, social unrest occurring far away can have transnational ramifications, with effects nearer to home. This has been evident in recent years with movements such as Occupy and Indignados, and the Arab Spring. Unrest could also be the consequence of a terrorist attack, but even the threat of one can lead to widespread panic. The upshot can be disorder and economic turmoil.

The Internet is much more than a multi-billion dollar industry. The world’s economy now depends on this global “cloud”, which was once little more than a means of connecting different computers over a phone network. Today, the digital age has vast new potential to serve as a force of progress in the global economy, but better, smarter public policies will be needed for that potential to become reality.

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More students are looking beyond their borders to give their education a competitive edge. 

Speech by Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State and Chair of the 2011 OECD Ministerial Council Meeting, at the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the OECD, 25 May 2011.

OECD faces a huge challenge of image. You insist that the organisation, known for its in-depth analyses and reliable statistics, aims to represent all relevant economies. Emerging countries, however, cultivate the impression that the OECD, despite its co-operation and development efforts well beyond its membership, is still the voice of "rich nations" only.

Boston Tea Party: Americans throwing cargoes of the tea ships into the River, at Boston, 1773. ©W.D. Cooper

Newness in politics has a long and eventful history. Globalisation and the battle for and against are no exception, as the events of the late 18th century show.

Economic data

GDP growth: +0.2% Q4 2019
Consumer price inflation: 2.3% January 2020
Trade (G20): -0.1% exp, -1.3% imp, Q4 2019
Unemployment: 5.1% January 2020
Last update: 11 March 2020

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