Angel Gurría, the former senior Mexican government official who took over as secretary general of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development last year, was warmly welcomed by USCIB members and friends at receptions in Washington, D.C. and New York on February 14 and 15.
The Paris-based OECD is the main intergovernmental forum for consultation and cooperation on economic and social policy among the United States, Europe, Japan and other advanced industrial economies, and it provides policy guidance to non-member economies such as China, Russia and India.
The Washington reception took place at the offices of Alston & Bird LLP following a meeting of USCIB’s Taxation Committee. Mr. Gurría, joined by Ambassador Connie Morella, the U.S. representative to the OECD, provided an advance look at USCIB’s upcoming OECD tax conference slated for this June, the third in a highly successful series of annual events focusing on the OECD’s influential work in areas like transfer pricing and reducing double taxation.
Ambassador Morella was also on hand at the Century Association in New York, where she was joined in welcoming Mr. Gurría by Tadahiro Asami of Japan, the new secretary general of the Business and Industry Advisory Committee (BIAC) to the OECD, BIAC Chairman Charles Heeter
(Deloitte), former USCIB President Abraham Katz, now president of the International Organization of Employers (IOE), and USCIB President Peter M. Robinson. Both BIAC and IOE form essential parts of USCIB’s global network.
In his remarks, Mr. Gurría reminded guests that the OECD’s founding charter mandated consultation with the business community, represented by BIAC, as an essential part of the organization’s structure. He praised the depth of BIAC’s work and American representation within BIAC, and he singled out USCIB members for their staunch support of the OECD’s funding in the most recent U.S. budgetary cycle.
Mapping out the OECD’s agenda for the coming months and years, Mr. Gurría said that he hoped the organization would continue to play its central role of championing open markets while helping member countries address the challenges of global integration. He warned that open trade and investment policies are under threat in a number of countries, both within the OECD and outside it. Mr. Gurría also looked ahead to increased OECD policy guidance to non-member economies such as China and India, and he laid out plans for new work in promoting innovation, including an upcoming OECD ministerial on innovation and growth this May and a ministerial on the Internet in mid-2008.
Mr. Gurría, who served in the 1990s as Mexico’s foreign minister and later finance minister under President Ernesto Zedillo, became head of the OECD in June 2006, the first representative of a developing country to lead the 30-nation group. He has made a top priority of broadening awareness of the OECD in the United States, especially in the business community and on Capitol Hill.
BIAC’s Mr. Asami, a former banker who became head of the OECD business group in January, also took advantage of the visit to meet with USCIB staff to discuss the range of American business engagement in BIAC and the OECD. He said that while he was new to BIAC, he was very familiar with the work of the OECD from his work with the Bank of Tokyo and later with Japan’s Institute for International Monetary Affairs.
Mr. Asami noted that BIAC might wish to make a priority of expanding and intensifying the OECD’s engagement with potential members such as Russia, which is actively seeking OECD membership, and eventually China. He said such a move could help both solidify the reform process and prevent backsliding in key emerging markets. BIAC is actively working to engage business from non-OECD countries in Latin America and China, to complement current BIAC observer members from Russia, Latvia, Israel and India.
Staff contact: Ronnie Goldberg