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Updated: May 24, 2011 19:28 IST

OECD Ministerial kicks off, focus on job creation

Narayan Lakshman
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Minister for Commerce and Industry Anand Sharma will be among the delegates attending the 50th annual Ministerial meetings of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris. Photo: Kamal Narang
The Hindu Minister for Commerce and Industry Anand Sharma will be among the delegates attending the 50th annual Ministerial meetings of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris. Photo: Kamal Narang

While Paris’ quaint Chateau de la Muette served as the former home of King Louis XVI and his new bride Marie Antoinette in the 18th century, it was the venue for an entirely different sort of elite on Tuesday — suit-clad ministers, diplomats, and civil society delegates attending the 50th annual Ministerial meetings of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

With the clicking of Blackberry devices and high-heeled shoes resonating through the halls of the elegant venue, there were more than 60 senior government officials in attendance, including United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Indian Minister for Commerce and Industry Anand Sharma. Further 15 Heads of State including French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan are coming together in Paris over the next few days.

Briefings with OECD officials made it clear that at the very top of the Ministerial’s agenda would be the vital question of job creation in the current context of the post-crisis economic recovery. Ms. Clinton is also set to outline a “new paradigm for development,” and there will be a strong emphasis on “green growth”, officials here indicated.

Richard Boucher, Deputy Secretary-General of the OECD, said during a media interaction that questions of inequality and poverty reduction were becoming more and more important at the OECD. Yet at this time “the focus is on how to create jobs,” he added.

In comments to The Hindu regarding India’s relationship with the OECD Mr. Boucher said, “It can go beyond technical assistance and partnership on specific projects. There is a sense that these countries matter to the world economy, even if they are probably not ready to join the OECD group.”

Pointing out that each of the OECD’s partners had a different contribution to make to the mutual relationship, he noted that India in particular had “done a lot on tax finance... [and] is known for a variety of innovation practices.” India’s experience could, in turn, contribute a lot to the OECD’s understanding of development, he said, emphasising that the relationship was principally about “a bit of convergence” from both sides.

While the OECD, established in 1961 as an outgrowth of the U.S.’ Marshall Plan for reconstruction in post-war Europe, promotes economic growth and development among its 34 advanced-economy members, recent years have witnessed the organisation focus increasingly on emerging economies such as India, China, Brazil, Indonesia and South Africa.

Yet this year it is Russia that will dominate some of the headlines on the Paris Ministerial as it moves one step closer to becoming an OECD member by joining the Anti-Bribery Working Group. The Duma has already made progress towards acceding to the Anti-Bribery Convention.


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