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  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Budget consolidation is dominating the political agenda. The Hungarian government has embarked on an ambitious four-year consolidation programme following another election-year peak in the deficit in 2006 at 9.2% of GDP. The immediate revenue increases and spending cuts are temporarily damping growth. However, if all goes according to plan, the programme will bring dividends to the economy in the longer term. This payoff is crucially dependent on: Discipline in budgetary processes. Work needs to continue on strengthening budgetary mechanisms. A system of binding medium-term spending limits should be considered. Budgetary reform also needs to extend to the sub-national governments. Success in maintaining spending freezes. The re-scheduling that brought forward part of the 13th month payment to public-sector workers this year does not affect achievement of the 2007 fiscal target in accrual terms. Nevertheless, looking forward, strong resistance to spending pressures arising from revenue windfalls is of key importance. Implementation of the structural reform programme. The healthcare reforms that are expected to deliver a large share of fiscal savings are reasonably well advanced and a welcome cut in gas-price subsidies is already reducing government spending. The reforms in education are positive but the changes to the tuition–fee system in particular should go further. It is more uncertain, however, whether all the planned cuts in government administration will be realised. Successful reform of public spending requires the participation of the counties and municipal governments. There are potential savings in administrative overheads here too and sub-national governments are responsible for providing many government services. In-depth review of these issues in this Survey reveals a need to: Capture economies of scale. Political constraints preclude widespread mergers among the large number of small municipalities. However, the joint provision of services is widespread and should be encouraged further. Efforts to rationalise through replacement of county-level governments with regional assemblies should continue. Reform financing systems. The financing of sub-national government needs simplification and greater transparency and oversight in accounts. Also, the benchmarking of services via output and performance indicators needs to become more widespread. Reform of local taxation should include widening of property tax and removal of the local business tax. Hungary's low employment rate remains a key structural handicap to economic performance. There has been welcome reform of unemployment benefits and early-retirement pensions. Planned reforms to disability pensions look promising and a concrete proposal for old-age pension reform is in the pipeline. This Survey looks in depth at the issue of prolonged parental leave and other aspects of family policy: Current efforts to boost childcare services are welcome. Future reform needs to consider further strengthening of central-government provision requirements on municipalities regarding these services, matched by appropriate funding. A system of childcare vouchers for parents would be one way of increasing efficiency in the provision of services. Reform to the very long parental leaves should be considered, along with changes to the attendant system of additional cash benefits. Savings could be used to help fund increased childcare services.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • 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: Despite a sharp housing market correction, overall growth has been holding up fairly well. Strong foreign demand and a decline in import growth have slowed the rise in the external deficit. With activity near capacity limits, some inflationary pressures have emerged. Reining them in without stifling growth is the main challenge for monetary policy. Looking further ahead, the key challenges are to sustain healthy growth and ensure fiscal sustainability in the face of population ageing. Against this backdrop, the Survey focuses on the following issues: Enhancing the economy's growth potential. Trend growth is slowing because labour productivity gains, though remaining high, no longer suffice to compensate for the deceleration in potential employment due mainly to demographic factors. Prospects for productivity growth appear favourable, but further efficiency gains could be achieved by tackling unfinished business in the area of structural reform. Labour supply could be boosted by increasing work incentives for the disabled, raising the earned income tax credit and delaying retirement eligibility.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • 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: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Governments have long been engaged in providing goods or services to their citizens that could, in some form, be provided by the private sector. The trend over the past few decades, however, has been to transfer these functions, and the state-owned assets used to provide them, to private hands. The most common method, and the one usually preferred, is privatisation, or outright sale or transfer of ownership of the relevant assets to one or more private parties. A second, however, is concessions.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government, Markets
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Sweden's 1993 Competition Act (CA) remains the foundation of a broad policy approach that includes prohibitions against restrictive agreements and abuse of dominance, control of concentrations, advocacy and support for academic research. Enforcement of this legislation by the Swedish Competition Authority (SCA) marked a shift towards a judicial, rules-based approach.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Europe, Sweden
  • Publication Date: 04-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Following major economic reforms, the Slovak economy has grown strongly in recent years, driven by rapid productivity growth, but still has far to go to catch up to the per capita income levels in the advanced European countries. The incoming government has made achieving a more equal distribution of income a priority insofar as this can be done without damaging long-term growth prospects. There is considerable scope both to strengthen growth prospects and to reduce income inequality by raising employment rates, improving education outcomes (including by reducing the impact of socio-economic background), and by removing barriers to product-market competition. The new government has also reiterated its commitment to Slovakia's entry into the euro area in January 2009 and has taken steps to make it probable that Slovakia will satisfy the Maastricht criteria for entry on a sustainable basis. Policies may need to be adapted to support macroeconomic stability in the currency union.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Poverty
  • Political Geography: Europe, Eastern Europe, Slovakia
  • Publication Date: 04-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: New Zealand has undertaken wide-ranging reforms over the past 20 years and now has one of the most flexible and resilient economies in the OECD. However, a large external deficit, very low household saving and still-strong inflation pressures indicate an unbalanced growth pattern. There are some signs that these imbalances are starting to unwind, but the short-term outlook remains uncertain. On current settings, it will take time for inflation pressures to dissipate and, notwithstanding a large fiscal surplus, strong growth in government spending is complicating the stabilisation task of the Reserve Bank. Moreover, additional fiscal stimulus beyond present plans – whether from spending increases or tax reductions – would delay internal and external rebalancing and exacerbate the adjustment required to ensure fiscal sustainability in the longer term.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: Australia/Pacific, New Zealand
  • 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: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Regulatory reform contributes to promoting sustained economic growth, complementing sound macro-economic policies. While Sweden has made significant progress on regulatory reform since the early 1990s and enjoyed major productivity gains as a result, it should instil more competition in the public sector, cut red tape and liberalise labour markets if it is to meet the challenge of an ageing population and maintain its high standards of social welfare.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: Europe, Sweden
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Regulatory reform is a priority in the effort to promote sustainable economic growth, complementing sound macroeconomic policies. It can help shift economic activity to higher value-added production and services, encourage the use of appropriate and new technology and make national economies more resilient to economic shocks. Regulatory reform is a very important asset as countries move forward in the process of globalisation.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Globalization, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: Korea
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The Belgian economy is in a strong recovery phase. The balancing of the budget since the start of the decade has allowed public debt to fall fast relative to GDP, providing a favourable macroeconomic background for the recovery. Moreover, structural reforms, particularly in the labour market, are showing signs of success. Output has accelerated and was by mid-2006 growing at 3% – the fastest pace since 2000. With growth well above potential, some production factors are already under strain. The challenge will be to persist with stability and reform-oriented policies to bolster the economy's trend growth, a challenge made more acute by the impending ageing of the population.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: Europe, Belgium
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The Randstad is the poly-centric urban area in western Netherlands, comprising Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht, and several smaller cities. It is one of the most densely populated areas in the OECD, which has developed into an advanced urban economy with many leading sectors, such as logistics, horticulture and financial services. The Randstad has one of the lowest unemployment rates in all OECD countries and is one of the most attractive metropolitan areas for foreign direct investment.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: Europe, Netherlands, Rotterdam, Amsterdam
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Intellectual assets have become strategic factors for value creation by firms. The expansion of the services sector, globalisation, deregulation, and the emergence of new information technologies have brought to the fore the issue of how knowledge is created, disseminated, retained and used to obtain economic returns. This has led to a structural change, from traditional scale-based manufacturing, which mainly relies on tangible assets, to new innovation-oriented activities which rely largely on research and development, patents, software, human resources and new organisational structures – collectively referred to as intellectual assets.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Education, Globalization
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Parliamentarians are at the heart of democratic systems. They pass laws and hold government purse strings. Because of their important role in national policy-making, it is only natural that the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) co-operate with parliamentarians when formulating its policy advice. So keeping parliamentarians informed of its activities and getting their feedback is a high priority for the Organisation.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Economics, Government
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Sweden enjoys excellent macroeconomic performance with high rates of growth, low unemployment and stable inflation expectations. Early steps in regulatory reform, taken in the 1990s, are paying off in terms of productivity and GDP growth. However, tensions are visible at the margin. Employment rates have not recovered to traditionally high levels since the crisis of the early 1990s. Joblessness is widespread among immigrants and youngsters, and disability and sickness rates are comparatively high. As well, renewed regulatory reform is needed, inter alia to address the low rate of enterprise formation and enterprise growth that may weaken the economy's ability to venture into new business fields.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: Europe, Sweden
  • 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: The economy is experiencing a favourable period of robust growth, low unemployment and moderate underlying inflation. This largely reflects the effects of globalisation, of which Norway has been a prime beneficiary, supplying energy and other commodities at high prices and increasingly importing products from low-cost countries. Sizeable labour migration inflows, together with sustained productivity growth, have kept cost inflation at a moderate pace. A tradition of foreign trade openness, domestic competition, a good policy framework and sound macroeconomic management have meant that Norway was well prepared to take advantage of these international trends.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: Europe, Norway
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Spain's economy has managed a remarkable performance in terms of growth, employment and public finances over more than a decade. A combination of expansionary monetary conditions, fiscal prudence, beneficial structural reforms and the positive supply-side effects of the strong rise in immigration has contributed to these outcomes. But these favourable developments are tempered by deterioration in several areas: the still high inflation differential has harmed competitiveness, and the resulting low real interest rates entail excessive domestic demand, which has been supported, jointly with employment growth and immigration, by ongoing rapid increases in household indebtedness and house prices. Despite some improvement, growth has therefore remained unbalanced as manifest in the large external deficit. Looking ahead, productivity gains are still modest, risking a substantial weakening in output and per capita income growth in the coming years.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Migration
  • Political Geography: Europe, Spain
  • 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: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: After several false starts, the economic recovery has taken hold. Activity was strong in 2006, firms and households are more confident about the future, business investment has picked up and unemployment has fallen below 8% for the first time since 2001. There are encouraging signs that the recovery is broadening to embrace household consumption as well. If in addition structural reforms continue, the expansion will become durable and self-sustaining, a prospect also supported by sound corporate and household balance sheets and favourable financing conditions. All this is good news, though it should be kept in perspective. Growth of around 2¼ per cent per annum projected for 2007 and 2008 is still modest by OECD standards, although the growth gap is smaller when measured on a per capita basis. Still, it could take until 2008 for cyclical slack to be fully absorbed.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Theodora Xenogiani, Robert E.B. Lucas, Louka T. Katseli
  • Publication Date: 10-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Managing migration has become a priority for policy makers both in developed and developing countries; it is a difficult challenge indeed. Large immigration or emigration flows relative to domestic population's impact on almost all aspects of an economy and society: family structures, community life, educational and health systems, labour markets, security systems, governance and institutions. Despite the inherent difficulties in policy making, there is a growing awareness that if management can be improved, important gains for both migrant-receiving (“host”) and migrant-sending (“home”) countries may be generated. Effective management can furthermore mitigate the risks associated with migration.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Migration
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Publication Date: 10-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: In the past 25 years Argentina has made considerable, if uneven, progress toward building a successful market economy. In any country, an effective competition policy is an important part of that effort. Argentina's progress in competition policy has also been uneven, having been affected in many ways by the country's turbulent political and economic history.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: Argentina, South America
  • 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: 10-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Substantial progress in macroeconomic stabilisation and institutional reform has laid a foundation for strong GDP growth. However, the recent inflation shock and turmoil in the financial markets highlight Turkey's on-going vulnerabilities. A further comprehensive programme of structural reform would increase productivity growth, expand the formal sector of the economy and consolidate macroeconomic stability.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 10-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The Internet has become a basic fact of everyday life for millions of people worldwide, from e-mail to online shopping. Ever faster and more accessible connections available on a wider range of platforms, such as mobile phones or person to person portable devices, have spurred new e-commerce opportunities. Online shopping and banking are increasingly widespread and over the next 10 years, the Net is expected to become as common as gas or electricity. Google's “Internet Chief Evangelist” Vinton Cerf, has predicted that by 2016, “everything from the family fridge to the office coffee pot … heating, cooling, and security systems … will be managed through the Internet; … by then, the Internet will become so pervasive that connecting to it will no longer be a conscious act.”
  • Topic: Security, Development, Economics, Science and Technology
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of all economies and are a key source of economic growth, dynamism and flexibility in advanced industrialised countries, as well as in emerging and developing economies. SMEs constitute the dominant form of business organisation, accounting for over 95% and up to 99% of enterprises depending on the country. They are responsible for between 60-70% net job creation in OECD countries. Small businesses are particularly important for bringing innovative products or techniques to the market.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Industrial Policy, Markets
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: A traditional objective of agricultural support policy was to increase production or maintain it at a certain level. Consequently, almost all policies were closely linked to production. Tariffs, export subsidies and other methods were used to support market prices, farmers were given direct payments for boosting production and governments subsidised items such as fertilisers.
  • Topic: International Relations, Agriculture, Development, Economics
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Flows of migrant workers are increasing. Almost three million long-term migrants enter OECD countries legally every year, and the numbers will continue to rise as host countries grapple with falling birth rates and ageing populations. Immigration offers clear benefits to advanced countries, with some sectors already lacking the labour and skills they need to meet demand. For migrants, attractions include a higher standard of living and better prospects for their children.
  • Topic: International Relations, Civil Society, Development, Migration
  • 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: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The Russian economy has been enjoying a period of robust growth, thanks largely to steadily rising terms of trade. The challenge confronting policy-makers is to facilitate Russia's transition into a period of self-sustaining, investment- and innovation-led growth. This will require a sound macroeconomic policy framework to manage the economy's adjustment to sustained high oil prices and a range of structural reforms aimed at creating better framework conditions for business.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Asia
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Considerable progress has been made in recent years in achieving macroeconomic stability and restructuring the economy. Productivity has risen since the macroeconomic stabilisation of the mid-1990s and the implementation of a series of structural reforms. But Brazil's GDP growth performance (about 2.5% per year on average since 1995) nevertheless needs to improve to close a widening income gap relative to the OECD area. Reaping the full benefits of stabilisation in terms of faster growth will require consolidating macroeconomic adjustment, boosting innovation in the business sector and stepping up formal labour utilisation.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: Brazil, South America
  • 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: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Climate change poses a serious challenge to social and economic development. Developing countries are particularly vulnerable because their economies are generally more dependent on climate-sensitive natural resources, and because they are less able to cope with the impacts of climate change.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Environment, Human Welfare
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: What is sustainable development and why is it important? Most people support the idea of sustainable development, but without fully understanding what it is. Most would agree that it implies a better balance between economic, environmental and social goals, and greater fairness in distributing the gains from growth among people and countries. It also concerns preserving the environment and natural resources as a basis for progress. And it means making policy decisions which are in the interest of future generations.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Economics, Environment
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: China's evolution from a centrally-planned to a market-based economy is leading to major transformations of its public expenditure policies. Much progress has been made in raising infrastructure spending to a level more in line with China's development needs and in modernising mechanisms for budget planning and implementation. Nevertheless, significant challenges remain.
  • Topic: Development, Government, Markets
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Ireland has continued its exemplary economic performance, attaining some of the highest growth rates in the OECD. After a remarkable decade, per-capita income has caught up with and overtaken the EU average. Further progress will require strong productivity growth and continued increases in labour supply. These challenges are familiar to most OECD economies. But it also faces some issues that are less common: it is going through a transition phase in upgrading its social services; infrastructure levels need to catch up with the boom in activity and population that has occurred over this period; and it has to manage some sizeable macroeconomic risks.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: Europe, Ireland
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Access to water that is safe to drink is vital to human health and to development. Recognising this, world leaders have set themselves the goal of halving by 2015 the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. This is one of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) to reduce world poverty set out in the United Nations Millennium Declaration in the year 2000, and reaffirmed at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development.
  • Topic: Development, Environment, Health
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Securing safe and reliable water and sanitation services for all is one of the leading challenges facing sustainable development. All but a few OECD countries have connected 100% of their populations to safe water supplies, and the majority are connected to wastewater treatment. Progress has also been made in developing countries, where between 1990 and 2000 access to safe water supply rose from 73% to almost 80% of the population. But there is still a long way to go. Over 1 billion people worldwide still lack access to safe water and 2.6 billion people are without access to adequate sanitation. About 80% of all diseases in developing countries are water-related, leading to an estimated 1.7 million deaths each year.
  • Topic: Development, Environment, Health, Third World
  • Publication Date: 01-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: E-learning is becoming increasingly prominent in tertiary education, with universities increasing provision and more students signing up. But is it actually changing the way universities teach and students learn, or is it simply a case of students typing up their essays on computers and professors sending them course reading lists or work assignments by e-mail?
  • Topic: Development, Education, Science and Technology
  • Publication Date: 12-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Governments pay out some USD 6 billion a year to support the fisheries sector in OECD countries. This money, variously called subsidies, support or financial transfers, is used to help manage fish stocks, to modernise fishing fleets, and to help communities and regions that can no longer make a living out of fishing to develop other economic activity. The money is also intended to assist in resolving problems of over-fishing and over-capacity that affect many parts of the OECD fishing industry.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Environment, Government
  • 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