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  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Nations and regions are struggling to remain competitive and adapt in the context of globalisation. The regional specialisations built up over decades are transforming rapidly. Many regions that were historically production centres are losing out to lower-cost locations and are reorienting their activities to higher value-added non-manufacturing industries or R manufacturing niches. Yet, given that even some of these upstream activities have begun to be off-shored to lower-cost OECD and non-OECD countries, the question for policy is how durable are the competitive strengths on which regional economies are based.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Nationalism
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Growth performance over the last decade has been among the best in the OECD, though a precise calibration is not yet possible following the recent revisions to GDP data. High growth has been driven by a range of factors, some of which are transitory. It is particularly encouraging that growth has been sustained over the last two years, despite substantial fiscal consolidation, mainly being driven by investment and exports. However, significant further reforms are needed to ensure that good performance is sustained in the years to come. It is imperative to use this period of strong performance to tackle remaining weaknesses in product and labour markets and move fiscal policy further towards a sustainable position by vigorous continued consolidation and pension reform. The key challenge, in terms of political economy, is to manage the required reforms in a context where society may be unduly complacent because the “good times” appear to be continuing.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Europe, Greece
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: A welcome economic recovery is under way in Italy. In part, this reflects the cyclical upswing in the rest of Europe, but there are also early signs of a more fundamental improvement, notably in terms of export and labour market performance. Even so, medium-term prospects remain challenging: Total factor productivity shows little signs of resurgence, high public indebtedness threatens fiscal sustainability and population ageing looms large. Without further reforms to restore economic dynamism, living standards will be dragged down relative to other countries. This Survey discusses policies undertaken by the government to address these challenges, notably to boost competition on product markets, achieve fiscal sustainability and make fiscal federalism work – all in support of growth and adjustment.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Europe, Italy
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The Southeast Asian region has shown remarkable economic dynamism. Economic growth has been robust, and trade and investment flows have been soaring as a result of increasing international division of labour.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Southeast Asia
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Societies produce ever-growing quantities of solid waste, from packaging to abandoned televisions and cars. Disposing of this waste, often by burying it in landfills or burning it, produces significant soil contamination, as well as air and water pollution. It is particularly important to manage hazardous solid waste safely and efficiently.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Cutting red tape is a priority on the political agenda. Businesses and citizens complain that they spend much time and devote significant resources to activities such as filling out forms, applying for permits and licences, reporting business information, notifying changes, etc.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Before a firm can compete in a market, it has to be able to enter it. Many markets have at least some impediments that make it more difficult for a firm to enter a market. A debate over how to define the term “barriers to entry” began decades ago, however, and it has yet to be won. Some scholars have argued, for example, that an obstacle is not an entry barrier if incumbent firms faced it when they entered the market. Others contend that an entry barrier is anything that hinders entry and has the effect of reducing or limiting competition. A number of other definitions have been proposed, but none of them has emerged as a clear favourite. Because the debate remains unsettled but the various definitions continue to be used as analytical tools, the possibility of confusion – and therefore of flawed competition policy – has lingered for many years.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Publication Date: 10-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: In OECD countries, rural areas account for three-quarters of the land and are home to a quarter of the population. Rapid changes in the international economy clearly have a different effect on these regions than on cities and towns, offering different challenges but also different opportunities.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Milan ranks among wealthy OECD metropolitan regions and is often identified with the “Made in Italy” brand on the international arena, notably for fashion and design. Once a successful industrial city, Milan has grown into the core of a wider industrial metropolitan region that is home to more than 7 million people. Industrial activities still drive the region's periphery while the centre of Milan is veering towards becoming a service platform for a significant share of northern Italy. Milan's historical skills endowment and its advantageous geographic location could underpin its ambition to become a southern European and Mediterranean capital, supplying advanced services and new technologies while remaining an international capital of fashion and design.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: Europe, Italy
  • Author: Felix Zimmermann, Denis Drechsler
  • Publication Date: 12-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: With concern about how to finance the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) widespread, recent donor pledges to raise aid volumes are welcome. However, aid alone will not suffice – bringing in new actors and sources of development finance will be essential. In many developing countries, this is already happening, creating new opportunities and challenges for their governments and donors.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Health, International Trade and Finance
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: With a surface area of 1.22 million km2 and a population of 46.9 million, South Africa is one of the largest countries on the African continent. It is also the largest African economy, with a per capita gross domestic product (GDP) of USD 3 530, more than four times the African average.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Organization, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: South Africa
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Competition policy plays a key role in promoting consumer welfare and market opening. Lack of competition is a main reason for the high prices of many products and services on the Swiss market. Traditionally, Swiss competition policy has been relatively lenient and low profile, allowing a relatively uncompetitive internal market to remain unchallenged. The impact of competition policy on economic development has therefore been at best neutral. As the slow rate of growth becomes an issue, however, a more vigorous approach to competition has been identified as an important factor for improving growth prospects. The 2003 reform of the Cartel Act strengthened Swiss competition law, in particular by introducing direct sanctions for the most serious infringements and a leniency programme, thus bringing it closer to that of the European Union and of many other OECD countries. The Swiss Competition Commission has been given considerable new powers to combat private restraints of competition. Comco will have to enforce the new laws resolutely and step up action to promote regulatory reforms. In doing so, it is burdened by institutional arrangements and mechanisms that temper its full independence. The Swiss competition enforcers do not benefit from the networks of exchanges available to national competition authorities in EU member States. Matters are further complicated by a relative lack of resources. Strengthening competition is a key for an effective internal market. The amendments to strengthen the Cartel Law and pending reform proposals signal determination on the part of the Confederation to tackle the problems. It is too early to say how effective they will be and the extent to which they will encourage a change in general attitudes, notably among the sub federal levels of government.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Organization, International Trade and Finance, Law
  • Political Geography: Switzerland
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Growth performance has been among the best in the OECD, underpinned by a strong innovation performance and high educational attainment. The unemployment rate, currently at 8%, has dropped below the euro area average, employment rates, particularly among the old workers, have been increasing rapidly, inflation is among the lowest in the OECD and the government surplus sizeable.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Organization, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Finland
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Portugal's economic performance has deteriorated markedly since 2000, with the slowdown turning out to be more severe and prolonged than in most other OECD countries. This lack of resilience reveals structural weaknesses. Meanwhile, with low growth and weak control of public expenditure, the fiscal deficit has remained at unsustainably high levels, reaching close to 6% of GDP in 2005. Despite the existence of a large output gap, the high fiscal deficit leaves no room to stimulate demand. The government has embarked on a strategy that aims at consolidating public finances and enhancing growth and it is important to strengthen these efforts. Without more wage restraint and higher productivity growth, there is a clear risk that Portugal's competitiveness continues to deteriorate and the income gap vis-à-vis the OECD average widens further.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Organization, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Portugal
  • Publication Date: 04-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: For many cities in OECD countries, globalisation has opened access to new markets, skilled human resources and advanced technology, while accelerating international competition and industrial restructuring. Seoul – a city of 10.3 million people at the core of a capital region of 22.5 million people, one of the world's most populous metropolitan regions – is striving to upgrade its position from that of a national mega-capital to become a “world city” and a leading business hub in Northeast Asia.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Organization, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Korea, Northeast Asia, Seoul
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Fears that “globalisation” implies increasing job losses and lower wages are an important source of popular ambivalence towards the increasingly open character of OECD economies. Although such concerns are not new, recent developments appear to have heightened workers' apprehensions that rising trade competition threatens their jobs, wages and employment conditions, particularly in the higher-wage OECD countries. Increased international sourcing of production activities – including the “offshoring” of some white-collar jobs in information technology (IT) and business services – has led some commentators to conclude that a large share of high-wage OECD workers will soon be in direct competition with workers in countries where wages are far lower. EU enlargement and the increasing integration of large, labour-surplus economies such as India and China into the world trading system also reinforce anxieties about “delocalisation” and “a race to the bottom”.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Organization, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: China
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Stockholm is one of the most successful metropolitan regions in the OECD. Throughout the 1990s, the region experienced consistent and impressive growth, drawing on its role as the national capital, its research and development strengths, concentration of advanced business, logistical and financial services, and specialisation in high growth, high-tech sectors, notably ICT. Stockholm also stands out for its high quality of life, as is evident in its strong public health performance, high educational attainment and low poverty levels. In terms of these and other socio-economic indicators, Stockholm ranks among the best in the world.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Organization, International Trade and Finance
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Many OECD countries have reformed their personal income tax system over the last two decades. Yet no clear consensus has emerged on what is the ideal personal income tax. These reforms have tried to create a competitive fiscal environment, which encourages investment, risk taking and entrepreneurship and provides increased work incentives. At the same time, fairness and simplicity have become the byword of reformers. Fairness requires that taxpayers in similar circumstances pay similar amounts of tax and that the tax burden is appropriately shared. Simplicity requires that paying your taxes becomes as painless as possible and that the costs of collecting taxes are kept at a minimum.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Emerging Markets, International Trade and Finance
  • Publication Date: 11-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Opening up agricultural markets to international trade has been one of the thorniest issues in successive rounds of global trade talks. Protection in agricultural trade is still high in both the developed and developing world, so agreement in agriculture is crucial to the success of the Doha Development Agenda talks in the World Trade Organization (WTO), particularly for developing countries who stand to make significant gains.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Development, Emerging Markets, International Trade and Finance
  • Publication Date: 10-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Steady increases in trade volumes and complexity in recent years have significantly changed the operating environment for the international trading community. They have also highlighted the negative impact of inefficient border procedures on governments, businesses and ultimately on the customer and the economy as a whole. Governments may face smuggling, fraud and national security problems, which drain the public coffers, while businesses pay the price of slow and unpredictable goods delivery, costly customs procedures, and even lost business opportunities. And all these costs ultimately make goods more expensive for the consumer.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance
  • Publication Date: 10-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Will developing countries really gain substantially from further multilateral trade liberalisation? This is a vital issue for the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) talks at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and a requirement for their successful conclusion. It is clear that many developing countries have benefited from multilateral trade negotiations and the resultant market-opening agreements in the decades since the Second World War. Further market opening should help more of them to better integrate into the world economy.
  • Topic: Development, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Third World
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Services, from health to banking, have become the single largest sector in many economies worldwide. They not only provide the bulk of employment and income in many countries, but they also serve as vital input, such as telecommunications, for producing other goods and services. So an efficient services sector is crucial for the overall economy. And because of this, agreement on opening up services markets is crucial to the success of the current global trade talks.
  • Topic: Economics, Health, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Sound macroeconomic policy, assertive product, capital and labour market liberalisation, and fundamental tax and welfare reform have transformed the Slovak business environment in recent years. Foreign direct investment (FDI) has responded particularly well, becoming the prime engine of capacity and productivity growth, and helping to put the economy on a strong and well-balanced growth path.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: K. Fukasaku, M. Kawai, M.G. Plummer, A. Trzeciak-Duval
  • Publication Date: 05-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The East Asian development experience needs to be better understood — especially the region's clustered, sequential development process and neighbourhood effects linking economies at different levels of industrial development. How have different policy vectors transmitted by OECD countries, notably in the areas of trade, investment and aid, contributed to the development of the region? To what extent have the impacts of OECD-country policies depended on the capacity of East Asian economies to respond through their own public policies?
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Israel, East Asia
  • Publication Date: 03-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The Spanish economy has enjoyed many years of brisk growth and has recovered swiftly from the recent international slowdown. Activity has been boosted by low interest rates and strong job creation, and underpinned by structural reforms and a sound fiscal policy. As a result, the income gap with the euro area steadily narrowed. However, tensions have arisen that could undermine the strong growth performance as inflation is relatively high, eroding competitiveness, while the surge in house prices does not yet show signs of abating. Also productivity gains have remained meagre and unemployment is still high.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Europe, Spain
  • Publication Date: 03-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: This Survey's general assessment is that Brazil is currently reaping the benefits of macroeconomic consolidation, underpinned by a prudent policy stance. Much progress has been made in fiscal consolidation and monetary policy continues to be conducted in a forward- looking manner. The external adjustment has been remarkable, with continued strong export performance, making the economy more resilient to changes in market sentiment. These achievements owe much to the strengthening of institutions, in particular the inflation targeting framework and the Fiscal Responsibility legislation. The economic recovery is now firmly established. But the consolidation of macroeconomic stability remains essential moving forward, coupled with further structural reform, to ensure that the positive outlook ushers in a virtuous circle of improved confidence and resilient, equitable growth.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Brazil, South America
  • Publication Date: 02-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Denmark has been near the top of the OECD's income rankings for many years. It has the most equal income distribution among member countries, partly because of its comprehensive welfare state. Given an ageing population, the key economic challenge is to maintain growth in living standards while preserving the welfare system. To achieve this, Denmark will need to raise labour supply and productivity growth. If they do not improve from here, the growth rate of per capita GDP will be dragged down to just ½ per cent per annum within a couple of decades.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Europe, Denmark
  • Publication Date: 02-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Iceland's impressive economic performance has continued to show the benefits of the refocusing of policies on financial stabilisation and market liberalisation in the 1990s. The most recent recovery, which began in 2003, has been much more vigorous than expected, as buoyant household demand has reinforced the stimulatory effect of the large-scale aluminium-related investment projects underway. Imbalances in the economy – specifically, the large current account deficit and inflation pressures – have mounted and – with GDP growth averaging over 5% in 2004-06 – they may well be similar in size to those seen in the last overheating episode in 2000-01, which resulted in a mild recession. Limiting instability over the next few years is a demanding task for macroeconomic policymakers, and efforts underway in this regard need to be strengthened. There are also challenges for structural policies, notably with respect to the proper assessment of future investment projects and in the environ-mental area. In a longer-term perspective, sustaining the faster productivity growth that structural reforms in the 1990s have brought about will require further action, especially in the education and competition policy fields.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Publication Date: 02-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Danmark har i mange år ligget nær toppen på OECD's rangliste over BNP pr. indbygger. Danmark har den mest lige indkomstfordeling blandt medlemslandene, delvist so m følge af dets vidtfavnende velfærdsstat. I lyset af befolkningsaldringen er den primære økonomiske udfordring at fastholde væksten i levestandarden og samtidig bevare velfærdssystemet. For at opnå dette er det nødvendigt at øge arbejdsudbuddet og væksten i produktiviteten. Uden forbedringer på disse to områder vil væksten i BNP pr. indbygger fa lde til blot ½ procent om året i løbet af et par årtier.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Europe, Denmark
  • Publication Date: 01-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Recent and prospective performance is good. The Australian economy is still benefiting from the programme of widespread and deep reforms that started in the 1980s and was especially intensive in the 1990s. These made it easier to set macro policies in a stability-oriented medium-term framework. The combination resulted in a thirteen year long economic expansion accompanied by low inflation, high resilience to external and domestic shocks, and very healthy public finances. The short term outlook is for continuing brisk low- inflationary growth.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Australia, Australia/Pacific
  • Publication Date: 01-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The strengthening of the economy has raised hopes that Japan is emerging from a decade of stagnation. Output has been increasing at a more than 2 per cent annual rate since 2002, reflecting strong external demand and the progress made in corporate restructuring and economic reform. However, Japan still faces a number of serious headwinds to sustained growth, notably entrenched deflation and continued declines in bank lending and land prices. Meanwhile, the government's financial position continues to deteriorate, raising concerns about fiscal sustainability at the same time that population ageing is increasing demands for public spending. Addressing these challenges requires a combination of well-designed macroeconomic policies and structural measures to boost the growth potential and ensure rising living standards in the face of rapid population ageing.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Japan, Israel
  • Publication Date: 12-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Official export credit agencies (ECAs) support exports, much of which support goes to emerging economies, by providing loan guarantees, export credit insurance and direct loans. In 2002, the amount of business covered by such support was approximately USD 50 billion. Typically, officially supported export credits are provided to enable recipient countries to fund major capital goods and projects exported by the home country of the ECA, such as roads, mining, railways or airports.
  • Topic: Economics, Environment, Industrial Policy, International Trade and Finance
  • Publication Date: 11-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Following accession to the European Union the big issue for the Czech Republic is to strengthen growth prospects. Growth potential at present is somewhat above 3 per cent, implying a moderate pace of catch-up to living standards in the EU and elsewhere. There is room for greater ambition in growth performance, and it is welcome to see this reflected in the programme of the new Czech government. This Survey underscores four main challenges. Fiscal consolidation is the dominant challenge for macroeconomic policy, and is not only necessary to cope with ageing and to bring down the tax burden but is also needed to fulfil euro-area entry conditions. A welcome programme of fiscal reform has begun, including proposals for a system of multi-year aggregate spending ceilings and significant expenditure cuts. However, to date, mainly revenue-raising measures have been implemented while the full impact of expenditure measures is yet to be realised. The attempt to secure broad political consensus on pension reform is commendable, but it must be underscored that whatever reform is finally implemented, it will have to bring considerable fiscal savings. Health-care reform also has to deliver savings, but concrete proposals have yet to be made. To facilitate assessment of the true fiscal position, extra-budgetary funds need to be more fully integrated in mainstream government budgeting procedures. Also, with the further decentralisation of public services, the need for good budgeting practices and accountability in regional and municipal governments is all the more important. The Central Bank and the Ministry of Finance have formulated a transparent strategy for entering the euro area, that foresees minimising the time spent in ERM II. Annual reports will assess the economic conditions in relation to the Maastricht Criteria and a request to enter ERM II will only being made if the probability of a positive first assessment by the EU authorities is high. The choice of a 3 per cent inflation target for the run-up to euro entry is justifiable on medium-term grounds. However there may be some difficulty communicating the consistency of this target with the Maastricht criterion for price stability. The Czech authorities should therefore pay close attention to how the Maastricht criteria are interpreted and applied by the European Commission and the ECB and adjust their communication strategy accordingly. Most of the catch-up in living standards will have to come from boosting productivity growth. This means swifter re-allocation of resources across firms as well as stronger in-firm productivity growth. While the Czech Republic is a strong competitor for attracting foreign direct investment, policy towards poorly performing firms and business start-ups has problems, slowing down the exit and entry of firms. Bankruptcy procedures are cumbersome, often long and usually end up in liquidation, with asset stripping not uncommon. Reforms have long-since been planned, and it is welcome that new legislation looks finally set to go ahead. The legislation aims at strengthening the role of creditors, speeding up proceedings and allowing composition to play a bigger role. Likewise, efforts to streamline business registration are welcome and should be implemented as soon as possible. The general business climate is also damaged by issues in network industry competition, as some services, notably internet, are expensive in international comparison. Mobility between jobs and regions is weak. Administrative extensions of collective wage agreements, strict employment protection legislation (EPL) on individual dismissals, rent control, severe poverty traps (particularly for families) and a high tax wedge have contributed to considerable long-term unemployment. The Roma population is hit especially hard in this respect. Migration is to some extent mitigating the labour-market rigidities with Slovaks filling skilled vacancies and other eastern Europeans (mainly Ukrainians) taking up unskilled jobs that are unattractive for locals. Tackling the unemployment problem requires measures across a wide front, but most notably social benefit reform is needed along with reduction in the tax wedge as well as easing of EPL. The widespread social and economic exclusion of the Roma needs more attention, particularly in the education system. A more open immigration policy is needed to address immediate issues such as the inconsistency between granting work permits as well as for better alignment of immigrants' skills with those needed on the Czech labour market.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Europe, Ukraine, Czech Republic
  • Publication Date: 10-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Mexico City's spectacular growth into one of the world's largest metropolitan regions is giving way to new development dynamics. The Metropolitan Area of Mexico City (MAMC), with a population of approximately 18.4 million people, is undergoing two main transitions: first, from high population growth to relative demographic stability and spatial redistribution, and second, from a declining manufacturing economy focused on national markets to one based on services competing internationally.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: North America, Mexico
  • Publication Date: 10-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Economic performance has been solid, and macroeconomic policies are appropriate. The economy is expected to expand by close to 3.5 per cent in 2005, and the output gap will soon be closed. Monetary stimulus should gradually be removed and the fiscal policy stance needs to remain neutral. The Canadian dollar appreciated sharply in 2003 and is now probably not far from its fundamental value. Canadian firms will need to continue to adjust by making efforts to improve productivity to maintain competitiveness. Policy makers should remain focussed on policies that enhance productivity growth across all sectors. With a sound macroeconomic framework and structural policies that are mostly conducive to a well functioning economy, the country is well placed to meet the challenges of an ageing population, namely, maintaining rises in living standards through strong rates of productivity growth and policies to attenuate the expected fall in hours worked on average across the whole population, and ensuring that public finances are sustainable, especially given pressures on health care outlays.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Canada, North America
  • Publication Date: 10-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Turkey is at a crossroads. After hitting the most severe crisis of its recent history in 2000-2001, the economy bounced back and is now among the fastest growing economies in the OECD. A new institutional framework for monetary and fiscal policies as well as for product, labour and financial markets, infrastructure industries, and agricultural support opened a window of opportunity to escape from the three traps of low confidence, weak governance and high informality which underpinned the boom and bust cycle of the past and to embark durably on a higher growth path. Success will depend on fully implementing and completing the new policy framework.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Eastern Europe
  • Publication Date: 10-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The transformation of the Finnish economy over the last decade represents one of the few examples of the "new economy" taking hold in Europe. Output and productivity growth over the second half of the 1990s was among the highest in the OECD, and the recovery from the global downturn has been much stronger than for the euro area as a whole. However, imminent population ageing threatens to expose weaknesses in the labour market. Demographic developments, which over past decades have been broadly neutral, could reduce the growth rate of GDP per capita by 1/4 of a percentage point per annum over the remainder of this decade and by almost 1 percentage point over the next decade. This, combined with the likelihood of smaller productivity gains in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector, a continuation of falling ICT prices as well as the mediocre performance in the sheltered sectors, threatens the future growth of living standards. Within a decade, and in the absence of further policy changes, these developments together could imply that Finland not only loses its top performer status but could face a protracted period of slow growth, as illustrated in the following scenario.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Martin Grandes, Nicolas Pinaud
  • Publication Date: 09-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Lowering interest rates and, thus, the cost of borrowing in the rand zone (Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland and South Africa) is a priority to promote investment and economic growth. Local-currency interest rates in these countries are driven by those on rand-denominated transactions. Reducing the level and volatility of the rand premium would help reduce financing costs in the region. Policies should promote: enhancing financial-market liquidity; easier access to South African financial markets for African entities; domestic saving capacity; and the improvement of international perception of the rand. Johannesburg could become a financial "hub" for the region, channelling cheap resources to its neighbours.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Africa, South Africa, Swaziland, Namibia
  • Publication Date: 07-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The euro area has shown disappointing resilience to shocks and its income gap against the best performing countries remains large and is widening. The differences between individual euro area countries are even more striking and the forces that influence convergence in economic performance across the area are largely the same as those that shape the economic performance of the area.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Publication Date: 10-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: In many respects, France fares well among OECD countries in terms of indicators of the health status of its population and resources allocated to its health care system. The French population (and particularly French women) enjoys a relatively high life expectancy compared with the average across OECD countries. The French have a free choice of doctor, and can approach relatively easily both generalists and specialists. Also, the French health system has not generally experienced the problems of long waiting lists for certain treatments, as has been the case in several other OECD countries. The health care system in France is predominantly funded through public sources, but with services delivered by both the public and private sector. Universal access is provided to doctors and hospital services, with some co-payments for patients which vary depending on the type of services. Since the introduction of the Universal Health Coverage Law (Loi de la Couverture médicale universelle or CMU) in 2000, people with low income who are not covered by complementary insurance have access to doctors and hospitals free of charge. Overall, public satisfaction with the health care system in France has traditionally been much higher than in most other countries. However, health spending in France is relatively high in comparison with the OECD average.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, International Organization, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: France
  • Publication Date: 10-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The prospects for lower growth in the medium-long term will require far-reaching fiscal and structural adjustment. The authorities have made a start in reducing public expenditure growth in line with these more subdued prospects but more restraint will be necessary to meet their medium-term objectives. Adjustments to the general public pension scheme, preferably by reducing the high replacement rates, will be needed to make the scheme sustainable in the long term. The authorities have begun to tackle the early retirement problem, which will help to reduce the scale of the required adjustments to make the general public pension scheme sustainable, but more needs to be done. The reforms to the disability pension, which is one of the major routes to premature withdrawal from the labour force, should be complemented by reducing the earlyretirement pension on an actuarial basis in relation to a pension taken at the official retirement age and by reducing the ease with which imputed contributions can be obtained. Lower growth will also diminish the buffering role of cross- border employment on the national labour market, increasing the risk that adverse shocks increase structural unemployment. To counter this risk, the authorities should reduce the high replacement rates for unemployment and related benefits and ease employment protection regulation.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, International Organization, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Luxembourg
  • Publication Date: 10-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Most OECD countries have been actively reforming their public sectors for two decades. Initially the problem seemed to be a relatively straightforward one of improving efficiency, reforming management practices, and divesting public involvement in commercial enterprises. These reforms have indeed had a major impact but they have also given rise to some unexpected problems of their own. Even a seemingly straightforward action such as simplifying a welfare benefit form and cutting the time taken to process it may, for example, encourage more people to apply for the benefit, increasing the workload and making it more difficult to cut waiting time. While more efficient government is certainly desirable, efficiency alone is not a guarantee of better government.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, International Organization, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy
  • Publication Date: 09-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Since the late 1990s, Finland has been a leader in exploiting information and communication technology (ICT) to renew its economy and to reform its public administration. Its reputation for successfully providing proactive electronic government services and information has brought officials from around the world to learn from its experience.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, International Organization, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy
  • Publication Date: 09-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: E-government is more about government than about "e". As a tool to achieve better government, e-government offers potential solutions to leaders across the whole of government: IT managers, programme managers, agency heads, government-wide e-government planners and co-ordinators, and politicians all have a role to play. Yet the roles of these leaders differ, and even the role of an individual leader changes as e-government develops in a given country. At the beginning there may be an immediate need to foster innovation and diffusion of technology, whereas organisational change becomes more important once IT applications are in place. Certain key e-government principles are common to all leaders, though their relative importance will differ. While the elements in this policy brief may be applicable to leaders at various levels, they are especially relevant to leaders with broad responsibilities and a strategic vision of e-government.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, International Organization, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy
  • Publication Date: 09-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Foreign investment has played an important role in China's economic development for almost a quarter of a century and is vital for that development to continue. But while China has been highly successful in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) so far, and has made significant progress in improving its FDI policy framework, it has not fully exploited its potential to attract investment from OECD countries. To make the most of the potential benefits of joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) and to increase FDI inflows while enhancing their contribution to domestic development China will need to persevere with efforts to bring its laws and regulations into harmony with internationally recognised standards and to ensure they are fully and consistently implemented at local level.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, International Organization, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: China
  • Publication Date: 09-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Canada's economy has done comparatively well over the past two years, demonstrating a noticeably improved resilience to unfavourable shocks. Over the medium term the economy is poised to achieve growth rates that compare favourably with past performance, but that will not be enough to eliminate the per capita income gap with the United States. The fundamental challenge is to make Canada an even more attractive place to live, work and invest. While past reforms have begun to pay off, there is still unfinished business. To boost the employment rate further the government should reduce disincentive effects arising from the tax and benefit systems by, for example, making greater use of in-work benefits and reintroducing experience rating of Employment Insurance users. Faster productivity gains are more likely to be achieved in an economic environment conducive to innovation. A key to greater dynamism is strengthening competition by eliminating remaining foreign ownership limits and barriers to internal and external trade and continuing electricity deregulation. Investing in skills should also remain a priority, with a particular emphasis on adult education. The nation has benefited by importing human capital from abroad through immigration but needs to intensify its efforts to remove the obstacles that prevent immigrants from having their skills fully utilised in the labour market. Having introduced a sound fiscal framework and reformed its public pension system Canada is in a better position than most other countries in facing ageing-related fiscal challenges, but the trend rise in health-care costs remains a risk. With the recent budget the government chose to address the short-term needs of the existing system. But, ultimately, ways to control the rise in budgetary costs - whether through incentives to raise efficiency or through cost sharing - will need to be explored, otherwise the resources needed to finance the future burden should be set aside in advance, for example by setting a bolder debt reduction target. Finally, environmental sustainability will be enhanced with least cost to the economy if the ambitious greenhouse gas emissions reduction is achieved through market-oriented instruments rather than command and control measures or voluntary agreements.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, International Organization, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States, Canada
  • Publication Date: 08-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The OECD recognises the valuable contribution that civil society can make to the public policy-making process, and attaches great importance to the Organisation's own consultation and dialogue with civil society organisations (CSOs). This continuing dialogue builds trust in public institutions and promotes public understanding of the benefits and challenges of global economic and social change.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, International Organization, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy
  • Publication Date: 08-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Trade and investment, coupled with transfers of knowledge and technology and an appropriate institutional framework, have been major engines of global economic growth in developed and developing countries over the past 50 years. From the mid-1980s, the pace of global economic integration and growth accelerated significantly. Sustaining global economic growth and achieving a better sharing of its benefits will further the interests of all countries, developing and developed alike. Recognising this, the international community has committed itself to specific Millennium Development Goals and to ways of achieving them.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, International Organization, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy
  • Publication Date: 08-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The building sector is economically important in OECD countries, accounting for a significant proportion of industrial activities and jobs. In fact, the construction industry - buildings and infrastructure such as roads and electricity networks - accounts for around 5%-15% of their gross domestic product (GDP), and 45%-55% of their gross capital formation. The industry also provides 5%-10% of total employment in OECD countries. The building sector also has a great impact on the environment. Building activities such as design, construction, use, refurbishment and demolition all affect the environment, either directly or indirectly. p>
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, International Organization, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy
  • Publication Date: 08-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The global annual welfare gains from further multilateral trade liberalisation, involving both tariff reduction and trade facilitation, would be substantial. Recent OECD estimates suggest that they would range, depending on the precise scenario, between US$117 billion and US$173 billion. For individual economies, depending on the region to which they belong, the gains would amount to annual real increases in gross domestic product (GDP) of between 0.2% and 1.8%, the OECD estimates show. These figures are sufficiently impressive to inspire international action. But would the gains be automatic? Would significantly improved market access be enough to stimulate diversification and trade-led growth? And will increased trade necessarily contribute to reducing poverty and achieving the other Millennium Development Goals identified by the international community?
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, International Organization, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy
  • Publication Date: 08-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Services, from health and education to telecommunications and transport, are becoming the single largest sector in many economies. Not only do they provide the bulk of employment and income in many countries, but in areas such as the financial or telecommunications sectors, services provide vital input for the production of other goods and services. So the efficiency of the services sector is crucial to the efficiency of the overall economy.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, International Organization, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy
  • Publication Date: 08-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The development focus of the current multilateral trade negotiations launched in Doha in late 2001 has highlighted the need for trade liberalisation in areas of export interest for developing countries. When it comes to services, a key issue for these countries is the temporary movement of people across borders to supply services, for example in areas such as nursing or information technology.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, International Organization, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy
  • Publication Date: 08-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Regional trade agreements (RTAs) are an integral part of international trade, accounting for almost half of world trade and expected to grow further in the next few years. These agreements operate alongside global multilateral agreements under the World Trade Organization (WTO), and have both positive and negative effects. They can be attractive, for example, because it may be easier for a small group of neighbouring countries with similar concerns and cultures to agree on market opening in a particular area than to reach agreement in a wider forum such as the WTO. They can also offer new approaches to rule-making and so act as stepping stones on the way to a multilateral agreement.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, International Organization, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy
  • Publication Date: 08-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: International trade has grown rapidly in recent years, and with it the relative importance of border procedures such as Customs requirements, adding to the cost for governments and business, and ultimately for the customer. Indeed, surveys suggest that border-related costs such as the expense of supplying the required Customs documents or the surcharges arising from procedural delays when importing goods could total as much as 15% of the value of the goods being traded in some cases.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, International Organization, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy
  • Publication Date: 08-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The opening of markets has boosted trade and economic growth worldwide in the past few decades. Yet tariffs – taxes imposed by importing countries on foreign goods – still remain a key obstacle to market access. The potential benefits of further reducing this obstacle are significant. OECD estimates indicate that scrapping all tariffs on merchandise trade and reducing trade costs by 1% of the value of trade worldwide would boost global welfare by more than USD 170 billion dollars a year. These gains would contribute a boost to regions around the world, adding the equivalent of up to 2% to the present annual gross domestic product (GDP) in some areas. No wonder that both developed and developing countries consider substantial tariff reductions as a central goal of the current multilateral trade talks in the World Trade Organization (WTO).
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, International Organization, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy
  • Publication Date: 07-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Entering its fifth year of existence, the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) has met major headwinds. At the advent of the single currency the euro area experienced solid economic growth, with unemployment falling and public finances rapidly improving. However, a number of structural problems were exposed with the cyclical downturn since 2001, from which the area is recovering only hesitantly. The challenges facing policy makers at present are both of a short-run and medium-run nature. Policy makers are currently grappling with sluggish demand. Responding to this challenge, monetary policy has been eased and fiscal policy reacted through the automatic stabilisers. However, the room for manoeuvre was reduced by lingering inflationary pressures and earlier insufficient fiscal adjustment in several member states. Meanwhile the euro exchange rate has appreciated significantly. Over the medium term, the Community has set ambitious targets and a vast programme for enhancing the performance of labour, product and financial markets. This programme needs to be pursued with vigour, thereby raising the odds of large gains in trend growth and jobs while making it easier to achieve sound fiscal positions.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, International Organization, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Publication Date: 07-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: After several years of rapid expansion, the French economy has entered into a period of below potential growth, with a negative output gap opening up. Monetary conditions have been relaxed, while fiscal policy has eased excessively, provoking the European Commission to initiate an excessive deficit procedure. As uncertainty dissipates towards the middle of this year, the economy should pick up speed, reaching a growth rhythm of around 2 per cent in 2004. Nevertheless, over the medium term, in the absence of substantial reforms the ageing of the population risks threatening economic and fiscal equilibrium. Current pension and healthcare reform initiatives and plans to redress spending over the medium term go in the right direction. However, in order to ensure medium and long-term fiscal sustainability, additional policies to slow the expansion of health and pension spending are required, while efforts to raise employment rates and potential output are needed to improve the economy's ability to finance future ageing-related expenditure. Here, programmes that offer the possibility of on-the-job training should be expanded so as to reactivate young and lowskilled workers, while reforms to early-retirement schemes and the pension system need to be continued so as to restore work incentives for older workers. Ongoing tax and labour market reforms and policies to facilitate the development of high-tech and fast growing enterprises, which should help promote investment and higher productivity growth, also need to be pursued. The opening of the capital of stateowned enterprises and their eventual privatisation, and planned improvements to governance structures should help promote growth, but revenues from sell-offs ought to be used to reduce debt. Finally, in order to better manage the totality of public expenditures, the authorities need to implement reforms that can be used to ensure that all spending organisms contribute to controlling spending. Here, it will be necessary to implement mechanisms that would improve the effectiveness of measures to control healthcare spending. Moreover, decision-makers need to be more directly confronted with the long-term consequences of their actions. Initiatives such as decentralisation and the new budget framework law should help in this regard. Pursuit of reforms along all of these lines should permit society to meet the fiscal challenge posed by population ageing, while retaining high levels of service.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, International Organization, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Europe, France
  • Publication Date: 06-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The traditional dynamism and flexibility of the Italian economy has faltered in recent years, in part because of the unfavourable developments in the international economy. Furthermore, structural reforms have not yet gone far enough to turn the tide. Despite supportive fiscal policies and monetary conditions, growth is sluggish, confidence is at a low ebb, inflation is above the euro-area average, and there are perceptions of a pervasive loss of competitiveness. As regards fiscal policy, room for manoeuvre has now been greatly reduced by tax cuts – desirable in themselves – and significant additional corrective measures will be required for some years to come, if medium-term targets are to be achieved and long-term fiscal sustainability is to be assured. Such corrective measures should be of a structural and permanent nature, with prime candidates being savings in public pensions and health care, and increased public sector efficiency. The pension system is very expensive, in large part because it still encourages early retirement, thus resulting in inefficient public spending and low employment rates. These perverse features need to be removed. Public health spending is not efficiently administered: recent agreements on standards and financing with regions are a step forward, and a more incisive control of costs could derive from the quarterly monitoring of spending that has already been implemented. In public administration, the retirement of large numbers of public employees creates opportunities for a more effective and less costly redeployment of human resources. Overall economic performance would be improved by policies that further strengthen competition in product markets, for example by not eroding the powers and independence of the sectoral regulators. Privatisations should be vigorously resumed and effective financial market monitoring of firms ensured. Speedier bankruptcy procedures should be introduced that give priority to efficient reallocation of resources. Together with less rigid employment protection legislation, this might encourage more small firms to expand to levels that would permit more investment in both human and R capital. Recent employment developments have been positive, and further improvements could be achieved by encouraging the social partners to allow wages of workers of all ages to more closely reflect their productivity and local conditions. Planned improvements in the social safety net and the functioning of employment services should also boost job creation by making employees willing to accept more flexible employment conditions. In the longer term, increasing the levels of output and living standards will also depend on raising the skills and qualifications of Italy's labour force. Proposed educational reforms could improve them both and thereby help to realise Italy's full economic potential.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, International Organization, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Italy
  • Publication Date: 06-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: One of the most common complaints raised by businesses and citizens in OECD countries is the amount and complexity of government formalities and paperwork. Enterprises and citizens spend much time and devote significant resources to activities such as filling out forms, applying for permits and licences, reporting business information, notifying changes etc. In many cases, practices have become extremely complex, or irrelevant and cumbersome, generating unnecessary regulatory burdens – so-called “red tape”. The costs imposed on the economy as a whole are significant. When excessive in number and complexity, administrative regulations can impede innovation, create unnecessary barriers to trade, investment and economic efficiency, and even threaten the legitimacy of regulation and the rule of law.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, International Organization, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy
  • Publication Date: 06-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises are one of the world's foremost corporate responsibility instruments and are becoming an important international benchmark for corporate responsibility. They contain voluntary principles and standards for responsible business conduct in such areas as human rights, disclosure of information, anti-corruption, taxation, labour relations, environment, and consumer protection. They aim to promote the positive contributions multinational enterprises can make to economic, environmental and social progress.
  • Topic: Economics, Environment, Human Rights, International Organization, International Trade and Finance
  • Publication Date: 06-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: OECD countries have recently agreed to a positive reform agenda for agricultural policies. Central to this agenda is the need to set out clearly the objectives of agricultural policies, and to monitor the performance of alternative policies in attaining them. In most cases, the best way to achieve an objective is to target it directly. Thus, where agriculture is deemed to provide public services, such as a pleasing countryside or environmental benefits, any required support for those services could be provided directly, rather than through policies that stimulate output. Conversely, environmental degradation could be taxed or regulated at source. Where agricultural households have low incomes, there may be a case for policies that concentrate benefits among poorer households, as opposed to blanket support measures that pay more to larger (and typically wealthier) farmers and to landowners. Reform along these lines would improve the cost-effectiveness of government programmes, and would greatly reduce disruptions to international markets. At the same time, not everyone will gain from reform, at least in the short term. There may therefore be a need for temporary adjustment assistance for farm households that are negatively affected. The broader opportunities to improve economic well-being call for policies that respond explicitly to a more diverse range of societal interests.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Economics, Environment, International Trade and Finance
  • Publication Date: 05-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: An important obstacle to achieving environmental goals in many countries has been the failure to adequately address the associated financial issues: the costs of achieving goals; how those costs could be minimised; and the challenge of matching costs with available resources. The need for a fresh approach has become evident as central European countries come to terms with mobilising substantial financial resources to comply with challenging EU environmental requirements, and as the countries of Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia (EECCA) struggle to maintain even the low levels of services currently delivered by environmentally-related infrastructure.
  • Topic: Economics, Environment, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Europe, Central Asia, Eastern Europe
  • Publication Date: 03-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The Öresund project which is intended to develop jointly Skåne (Malmö) in Sweden and Zealand (Copenhagen) in Denmark is a major endeavour for the Danish and Swedish governments, given the potential economic growth that can be derived from the integration of one of the most highly populated and productive regions on the Baltic Sea. The significance of the project is reflected not only in the regional policy focus given to Öresund in both countries but also in the EU's support, notably through INTERREG, which considers Öresund a flagship programme. While progress has been achieved to better link the two regional economies, much remains to be done to remove barriers to integration and to define the strategic positioning of the area for the future. Four key policy challenges need to be addressed. First, regarding physical accessibility, the pricing policy for the crossing of the new bridge can be made more efficient and secondary infrastructure optimised to fully exploit the opportunities brought about by the fixed link. A cross-border committee could be created to allow integrated spatial planning. Second, labour mobility should be increased by removing bureaucratic and legislation obstacles through a new package of active labour market policies. Third, networking and co-operation between firms and educational institutions should be enhanced. Fourth, asymmetries of the two fiscal systems will need to be tackled by a new tax agreement. Most important is the governance framework of the region. While there are numerous common Danish/Swedish regional institutions and rightfully the creation of a heavily bureaucratic governing body has been avoided, the potential for public/private partnerships is far from tapped. Furthermore, the system in place does not provide an appropriate framework for the private sector to fully involve all relevant actors. These conditions will need to be fulfilled and forms of “light institutionalisation” of cross-border relations developed in order to trigger a new dynamism in the integration process.
  • Topic: Emerging Markets, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Denmark, Sweden
  • Publication Date: 11-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The OECD recognises the valuable contribution that civil society can make to the public policy-making process, and attaches great importance to the Organisation's own consultation and dialogue with civil society organisations (CSOs). This continuing dialogue builds trust in public institutions and promotes public understanding of the benefits and challenges of global economic and social change.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Non-Governmental Organization
  • Publication Date: 11-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The on-going structuring of the Greater Helsinki Region (GHR) should be encouraged by the central government. Managing the growth of the Helsinki region is crucial to avoid urban sprawl and the waste of resources, especially in the long run. With priorities for the Greater Helsinki Region identified, there is room to negotiate a general agreement between the central government and municipalities of the GHR. This agreement should receive large publicity and raise a debate in Parliament as the goal is to reassess both the role and the dependence of Helsinki upon the rest of the country, i.e. how can Finland develop as a whole by making better use of the motor, Helsinki.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Publication Date: 10-1999
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Never before have so many countries at such different levels of development been involved in so much activity aimed at progressively rolling back obstacles to freer trade and investment. Yet, paradoxically, at no time during the post-war period has the prospect of further liberalisation generated so much public anxiety, not least within those countries that built much of their prosperity on a liberal trade and investment order.
  • Topic: Economics, Environment, Government, International Trade and Finance, Sovereignty
  • Publication Date: 07-1999
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The goal of a large number of criminal acts is to generate a profit for the individual or group that carries out the act. Money laundering is the processing of these criminal proceeds to disguise their illegal origin. This process is of critical importance, as it enables the criminal to enjoy these profits without jeopardising their source.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Publication Date: 06-1999
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Twice a year, in June and December, the OECD publishes its Economic Outlook (EO), which contains projections for a number of key economic variables over a two to two and a half-year horizon.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Publication Date: 06-1998
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Population ageing in OECD countries over the coming decades could threaten future growth in prosperity. Governments should take action now across a broad range of economic, financial and social policies to ensure the foundations for maintaining prosperity in an ageing society. While reforms are already underway, much deeper reforms will be needed to meet the challenges of population ageing.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance
  • Publication Date: 05-1998
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Population ageing in OECD countries over the coming decades could threaten future growth in prosperity. Governments should take action now across a broad range of economic, financial and social policies to ensure the foundations for maintaining prosperity in an ageing society. While reforms are already underway, much deeper reforms will be needed to meet the challenges of population ageing.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance