Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was among the many top officials and business executives who convened in Paris last week to celebrate the 50th birthday of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which began as an outgrowth of the Marshall Plan and has grown to encompass 34 leading industrialized democracies, and to lay out a vision for the organization’s future growth.
“For all of its changes, the OECD remains as it was in those earliest days, a community of shared values, open and effective markets, human rights, freedoms, and the rule of law,” Secretary Clinton stated. “This is a place where leaders and technocrats, business, labor, and civil society can find common ground and produce tangible benefits for our fellow citizens.”
On an issue USCIB has championed, Secretary Clinton also spoke of the need for governments to develop policies to address the role of state-owned enterprises in the global economy.
“As the OECD enhances its engagement with emerging economies, it must also continue its groundbreaking work to develop multidisciplinary guidelines for the treatment of state-owned and state-controlled enterprises,” she said. “Whether they are owned by shareholders or states, all companies should operate on a level playing field consistent with the principles of competitive neutrality. And these companies should be solely commercial, not political actors.”
USCIB members who played a leading role in the ministerial and surrounding events included USCIB Chairman Harold McGraw III, who is chairman, president and CEO of The McGraw-Hill Companies, and board member Charles Heeter, principal with Deloitte LLP and chairman of the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD (BIAC), USCIB’s affiliate through which we provide input to the OECD policy process
Mr. McGraw took part in a panel discussion on the topic of “Bringing People Back to Work.” Among his key messages:
• Job creation requires taking concrete steps to improve the world’s economy, for example by opening markets through multilateral agreements such as the WTO’s Doha Round and through regional agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
• We need to narrow the skills gap, making sure graduates from our education systems are prepared to enter the workforce, and we must ensure everyone has the opportunity for life-long education.
• We need to make sure our education systems are providing quality, relevant education and training, so graduates have the necessary skills to succeed in today’s – and tomorrow’s – economy.
• Technology is a great enabler and equalizer, letting individuals use online courses to obtain degrees and certifications, and facilitating delivery of educational material via a variety of devices, providing “anytime, anywhere” learning.
In April, USCIB and BIAC organized a reception at the State Department to mark the OECD’s 50th anniversary, bringing together business, government and other stakeholders.
Also at the OECD ministerial, governments agreed on revisions to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, an issue in which USCIB has been closely involved. Secretary Clinton delivered remarks
reflecting on the importance of the Guidelines, which were first introduced in the 1970s and remain one of the few corporate responsibility instruments with formal government imprimatur. In the context of the latest revision, business is seeking better understanding and application of the voluntary Guidelines in non-OECD countries, in order to create a level playing field for companies around the world.
Secretary Clinton chaired a high-level session on development that featured a discussion of women’s economic empowerment. In addition, Russia signed the OECD’s anti-corruption treaty, one of a host of requirements to move the country’s application to join the OECD toward actual accession. Russia must first complete its accession to the World Trade Organization.
Secretary Clinton’s remarks on the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (State Department website)