Cooperation with other actors
In the period immediately following the Second World War, the organization focused mainly on the reconstruction and development of the member countries’ own economies. Nowadays, however, world trade and international growth are largely characterized by mutually dependent countries. It is therefore important for the OECD to keep in touch with countries outside the OECD circle.
During the latter half of the 1980’s, dialogue with a number of rapidly growing Asian economies gained momentum, including South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Taiwan. Later, cooperation was also initiated with China, India, Indonesia and the South American countries Argentina, Brazil and Chile.
Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the OECD launched a broad program of support for the former communist states with the aim of supporting the transition to a new economic system. Today, four of these “transition countries”, Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia, have joined the organization. Cooperation with other countries in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union involves virtually all OECD directorates and ranges from technical assistance to country audits.
Through various parts of the organization, such as the Directorate for Development and Aid, the Development Center and the Club du Sahel, the OECD has over time also created close contact with a number of developing countries. Cooperation between the OECD and the African organization NEPAD began in 2002.
In 2004, the OECD cooperated with over 70 non-member countries worldwide. About one-fifth of the OECD’s regular budget went to cooperation with non-member countries.
In addition to traditional areas such as economic development and trade, common interests were discussed in a wide range of fields, such as investment, competition, tax and financial issues, public governance, the environment, sustainable development, trade and agriculture. The main purpose is to spread the OECD’s thoughts and working methods, such as peer reviews, to other countries and thus help them enter the globalized economy.
The collaboration often takes the form of meetings, seminars, written information exchange or observership (see below) in committees or subgroups. It is coordinated and monitored by the OECD Center for Cooperation with Non-Member Economies (CCNM), under which a special committee sorts. There are three major regional programs (for South America, Asia, Europe and Central Asia) and one general program, The OECD Global Forum. There are also smaller programs specifically tailored for individual countries or smaller areas, such as Brazil, China, Russia and southeastern Europe. Sweden makes significant voluntary contributions to the Baltic program.
Within the OECD’s operations, there are four so-called multilateral tax centers in Ankara (Turkey), Budapest (Hungary), Chonan (South Korea) and Vienna (Austria). There, tax experts from member states and non-member countries meet a couple of times a month to discuss tax issues.
The European Commission has a special position as a participant in the OECD, which means that it, like the member states, may be represented at all meetings, including the Council. However, the European Commission has no voting rights.
Many subject committees and subgroups have non-member countries as observers. An application for observer status in a committee must be approved by the Council.
In order to determine which countries may become observers, account is taken, for example, of whether the country plays an important role in the area in which the Committee is engaged and whether there is a mutual interest in co-operation. The OECD charges observer fees, but these are so low that they barely cover the organization’s costs of administering observer countries.
According to militarynous, the OECD’s work program addresses issues that are currently relevant in international cooperation. These often reflect what has been discussed in other organizations and at major international conferences. For example, the OECD has contributed with investigations both before and after G7 / G8 and WTO meetings. As early as the beginning of the 1960’s, the OECD set up special committees for relations with the Council of Europe, the Conference of European Ministers of Transport and with international voluntary organizations.
To avoid duplication and to exchange experiences, the OECD works closely with other international organizations, such as the IMF, the ILO, the WTO, the IAEA, the World Bank, the FAO and many other UN agencies.
Sweden and the OECD
Sweden belongs to the countries that were involved when both the OEEC and the successor OECD were founded. Even today, Sweden attaches great importance to belonging to the OECD circle. Within it, Sweden can compare quality and costs in different areas, such as healthcare or the environment, with other countries at a similar economic level. The OECD has access to materials and current information from both OECD countries and outside states. The organization can therefore make comparative analyzes that our Swedish experts at home may have difficulty producing. The OECD’s investigations constitute important background material in the formulation of Swedish policy. Although Swedish officials after Sweden’s accession to the EU increasingly focus on EU work, the OECD is still highly valued as a forum where Sweden can cooperate with important states outside the EU, such as the USA, Canada and Japan.
Of great value to Sweden is the fact that we participate in the so-called WP3 group for the G10 countries (see Economy and economic policy above), where we have the opportunity for direct dialogue with representatives of the largest world economies.
For a small country, whose economy and trade depend on what is happening in the international arena, the OECD offers a significant network of contacts and a source of knowledge. At daily meetings within the OECD, Swedish representatives can also present Swedish positions and thereby provide support for the issues Sweden pursues at an international level.
The unit for international trade policy at the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and the Minister of Trade and Industry coordinate Sweden’s efforts in the OECD. Annual meetings are held between the relevant ministries and the OECD Ambassador on mainly future work programs and budgets. The Swedish permanent OECD delegation in Paris, which consists of an ambassador and a dozen other officials, reports to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The delegation pursues Sweden’s interests in accordance with instructions from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which in each matter consults the relevant line ministries.
Every year, about 1,000 Swedish officials and experts travel to the OECD to represent Sweden in committees and working groups. In 2002, Sweden had 17 administrators employed within the OECD.
The cost of Swedish OECD membership was estimated at the beginning of the 2000’s at approximately SEK 85 million annually. In 2000 and 2001, Sweden also provided around SEK 10 million annually in voluntary contributions to the OECD.