The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is engaged in advanced talks with the Ministry of External Affairs to open an India office. The possibility of India joining it is also on the cards, though that could be the long-term outcome of an ongoing dialogue.

The OECD, with headquarters in Paris, is one of the world’s largest forums for nations to work together to promote policies to improve the economic and social well-being of people.

A OECD team — Secretary-General Jose Angel Gurria; Senior Adviser Federico Giammusso, Director-Global Relations Lamia Marcos Bonturi; Adviser to the Secretary General Kamal-Chaoui — is in New Delhi for the Fourth OECD World Forum on Statistics, Knowledge, and Policy to discuss ways of measuring well-being and how it can contribute to effective and accountable government policy.

The speakers include Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz; Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh; Costa Rica’s Vice-President Luis Liberman; Chandran Nair of the Global Institute for Tomorrow; Jeffrey Sachs, Director of Earth Institute, Columbia University; Montek Singh Ahuuwalia, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission; and India’s Chief Statistician T.C. A. Anant.

India is among five countries, others being Brazil, China, South Africa and Indonesia, where the OECD has established a process of “an enhanced engagement” with the possibility of membership, based on an OECD Ministerial Council mandate. It recently submitted three reports on Indonesia’s economics, regulations and agricultural sector. In China, along with the WTO, it recently completed a detailed report on trade and value-added services.

The OECD’s prescription for India is that it should not be overly obsessed with China, since in the long run India’s growth will be sustainable and durable and is impacted by its democratic character, while its weakness lies in delayed decision-making due to excessive deliberation.

Furthermore, the OECD recently announced that the information technology sector will boom during the downturn — good news for India’s IT companies and Nasscom. It has said the total ICT spend will reach $4,406 billion in 2012, of which 58 per cent will be on communications services and equipment, 21 per cent on computer services, 12 per cent on computer hardware and 9 per cent on software.

Deeply concerned at the global economic slowdown, the OECD believes that this is the fifth year of the crisis. There is additional concern at trade flows having slowed down; while the world economies came out of the low point in 2009, growth seems to be dipping once more with the slowdown back again.

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