India, China, Russia and Brazil taking part as observers

Economy and Trade Ministers from 40 countries, representing 80 per cent of the world economy, descended here on Thursday for the annual ministerial meeting of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a rich man's club that brings together the world's richest 30 nations.

However, emerging nations such as India, Russia, Brazil and China, Indonesia or South Africa too have been invited to participate as observers. Discussions are expected to focus on ways and means to sustain the economic recovery while addressing heavy debt imbalances.

India is represented by Minister for Commerce and Industry Anand Sharma. A press meet with him, organised by the Indian embassy officials, was abruptly cancelled after Mr. Sharma said he “knew nothing” about an appointment with the press.

Trade Ministers from key World Trade Organisation (WTO) members, including India, will hold informal consultations on the sidelines of this meeting to review the progress of the Doha talks for a global trade-opening deal. A Commerce Ministry official was quoted by PTI as saying: “India is for early conclusion of the WTO negotiations and Mr. Sharma will pitch for it.”

Israeli membership

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is also here for his country's formal accession to the OECD. The membership was awarded to Tel Aviv despite strong protests from the Palestinians, who say Israel does not comply with the organisation's pre-requisites of the respect for human rights. Mr. Netanyahu will hold talks with French president Nicolas Sarkozy.

In its just-released annual report, the OECD raised its growth forecasts for this year and next, as emerging economies such as China outpaced debt-burdened developed countries to drive the global expansion.

The economy of the OECD's 30 members will grow 2.7 per cent this year, against 1.9 per cent predicted in November. The global economy, including non-members such as China, will expand to 4.6 per cent this year and 4.5 per cent in 2011, compared with an average of 3.7 per cent in the decade through 2006.

‘Boom-bust scenario'

“A first substantive risk is related to developments in sovereign debt markets,” OECD Chief Economist Pier Carlo Padoan wrote in the report. Elsewhere, “a boom-bust scenario cannot be ruled out, requiring a much stronger tightening of monetary policy” in some countries, including China and India.

While the economies of China and India risk overheating, indebtedness may threaten expansion in the developed world.

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