On 7-8 June in Paris, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edgars Rinkēvičs, took part in the Meeting of the Council of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) at Ministerial Level, held this year around the central theme of “Making globalisation work: Better lives for all”.
At the meeting, Catherine L. Mann, OECD Chief Economist, presented the latest OECD Global Economic Outlook for 2017 and noted that economic growth figures have been improving across the globe, with investment, trade, manufacturing and employment indicators showing positive albeit moderate cyclical upturn. That said, it was emphasised that further efforts are needed to sustain high living standards in the OECD bloc and ensure that the benefits of globalisation and digitalisation are more widely shared. In the Economic Outlook, Latvia’s economic growth is projected to be the fastest among the Baltic States: both this year and next, Latvia’s GDP is expected to increase by 3.5 %.
In a number of working sessions, the ministers shared views on the impact of digitalisation and globalisation on economic growth, job creation and people’s well-being. The participants expressed a shared conviction that OECD member states should work together to ensure that the opportunities offered by digitalisation and globalisation are made accessible to all members of society.
A discussion among the member states on the organisation’s strategic orientations covered matters related to the future size and membership of the OECD, including the evaluation framework produced last year for the countries which have expressed their interest in joining the organisation.
In a session on trade, Latvia, together with 17 other countries joined an initiative proposed by the Netherlands – the Network for Open Economies and Inclusive Societies. The initiative aims at creating a format where like-minded countries will actively cooperate to promote an open and inclusive trade system and sustainable investments, good corporate governance and responsible business practices, as well as fighting protectionism, inequality on the labour market, in health care and education, tax evasion, illegal trade and corruption.
On 7 June, together with representatives from 76 countries and jurisdictions, Edgars Rinkēvičs signed the OECD Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty Related Measures to Prevent Base Erosion and Profit Shifting, which is to help fight tax evasion on an international scale.
The Foreign Minister also met with Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General and discussed the priority vectors of Latvia’s OECD membership, the issues of OECD enlargement and the organisation’s cooperation with the Eastern Partnership and Central Asian countries. Edgars Rinkēvičs also had a meeting with the State Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, Kentaro Sonoura, and expressed commitment to the strengthening of economic contacts and bilateral cooperation.
In conclusion of the meeting, the Ministerial Council Statement was approved and the Statement of the Chair of MCM 2017 was adopted. In their joint statement, the ministers recognised the need to work together to ensure that the benefits of globalisation and digitalisation are more widely shared towards increased productivity, inclusive growth and reduced inequality. The Chair’s statement for its part presented a common perspective of international trade, investment and climate change.
The ministerial level meeting of the OECD Council takes place once a year. In parallel with the Ministerial Council Meeting, international experts from business and academic circles, and civic society take part in high-level fora focussing on specific topics.