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  • 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: The evolution of Turkey's economy from a government-controlled regime to market-based competition led to the enactment in 1994 of the Act on the Protection of Competition (“Competition Act”) and the creation of the Turkish Competition Authority (“TCA”). Final impetus for the legislation was Turkey's negotiation of a customs union agreement with the European Union, which obliged Turkey to enact the EU's standard competition provisions as its own law and to establish an agency to enforce them.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Markets
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Eastern Europe
  • 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
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: China's economic reforms over the past two decades have brought remarkable growth, the development of a vibrant private sector and significant reform of the state-owned sector. Private businesses now represent some 57% of GDP, and productivity in the state-owned sector has improved significantly. However, a number of problems threaten to undermine prospects for sustainable growth. These notably include social tensions, partly due to increasing inequality within society and massive migration to the cities, but also linked to corruption, insufficient public services and rising unemployment as millions of workers have been laid off in the reform of the state-owned sector, while agriculture still displays huge structural under-employment.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: China's economic growth has averaged 9½% per cent over the past two decades. The rapid pace of economic change is likely to be sustained for some time. These gains have contributed not only to higher personal incomes, but also to a significant reduction in poverty. At the same time, the economy has become substantially integrated with the world economy. A large part of these gains have come through profound shifts in government policies. Reforms have allowed market prices and private investors to play a significant role in production and trade.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Emerging Markets
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Fiscal management has been successful in recent years, and the backdrop of an inflation-targeting monetary policy has helped anchor expectations that macroeconomic stability is here to stay. In addition, the financial sector has gone through an important transformation and a broader and deeper domestic capital market has developed. This will enable the Mexican authorities to turn more of their attention to long-term priorities, which are where the important policy challenges increasingly lie. Faster growth of living standards will require reforms to the tax system so as to finance the appropriate level of current spending and long-term investment needs. Fiscal relations between the different levels of government need to be re-thought so as to ensure a more effective and more equitable use of revenues. Part of higher oil revenues should be earmarked for financing some important multi-year but finite programmes. Major reforms to education, the labour market, the electricity industry, other network sectors and ways of doing business are also desirable, and will help spur investment in Mexico's future by both domestic and foreign firms. It is important that reforms be assessed and judged by legislators on their intrinsic merits rather than through the prism of short-term political considerations.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Emerging Markets
  • Political Geography: Central America, Mexico
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: In recent years Japan has been challenged by important socioeconomic changes. Low economic growth, population ageing and depopulation, and new trade relationships with the East Asia region have made it increasingly necessary to transform the system established during the period of economic and demographic expansion.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Emerging Markets
  • Political Geography: Japan, Israel, East Asia
  • Publication Date: 08-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The Norwegian economy continues to recover strongly from its 2002-2003 slowdown. Low interest rates, competition induced productivity gains, high investments by the booming oil sector, terms-of-trade gains and supportive macroeconomic policies are the main drivers. Inflation is low and labour inputs in terms of hours worked are rising briskly. Strong growth is likely for the remainder of this year and possibly during 2006.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Emerging Markets
  • Political Geography: Europe, Norway
  • Publication Date: 07-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The composition of growth of the Hungarian economy has become healthier and real convergence looks set to be on a sustainable path. While most reforms to establish a flourishing market economy have been carried out and the current government is launching a new reform initiative of "100 Steps", more needs to be done in two broad areas in order to maintain high growth: Achieving a smooth entry into the euro area: Frequently missed policy targets, tensions between the government and the Central Bank and stubbornly high twin deficits have established an unhealthy climate of financial volatility, which contrasts with and may even risk threatening the rather smooth process of real convergence. Increasing trend growth by both raising the employment potential and trend productivity growth: A large share of Hungarians with some work capacity is not working in part because of the way social benefits are designed. Low employment is aggravated by impediments to regional mobility of the labour force. Hungary needs to move further up the value added chain. This process for the time being rests very much on investments by foreign companies while innovative activities and commercial applications of own research remain limited.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Hungary
  • Publication Date: 07-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Economic policy in the euro area pursues the objectives of achieving solid economic growth, a better performance of labour markets and restoring sound public finances in the context of a single monetary policy which aims at maintaining price stability. Although inflation has remained just above the ECB's definition of price stability, longer-term inflation expectations remain firmly anchored to price stability. However, progress towards the other goals has been disappointing thus far partly owing to adverse shocks such as higher oil prices or exchange rate shifts. On unchanged policies and with population ageing the euro area's potential output growth is set to decelerate over the next decades and eventually stabilises at around 1% per annum by about 2020, as illustrated in the following scenario:
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Publication Date: 07-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Recent and prospective growth performance is good. The Greek economy has continued to grow vigorously, buoyed especially by low nominal and real interest rates and an expansionary fiscal policy stance, largely reflecting public works in preparation for the Olympic Games in 2004. The outlook is for some slowing activity in the near term, triggered by fiscal consolidation, but a subsequent pick-up in growth thereafter. However, inflation is likely to remain above the euro-area average, to a certain extent eroding Greece's international competitiveness. Fiscal consolidation is the main priority. The fiscal audit, performed by the new government in close collaboration with Eurostat has revealed a very loose fiscal policy since the late 1990s, culminating in a general government deficit of 6% of GDP in 2004. The government debt-to-GDP ratio has remained stubbornly above 100%, despite uninterrupted strong growth during the past eleven years. Reining in government deficits is of vital importance both to meet the fiscal objectives of EMU, and to prepare for demographically-related budget pressures that will start emerging in a decade's time. Moreover, sustained high public debt makes Greece relatively more vulnerable to changes in interest rates and market sentiment, while it's servicing threatens to crowd out public spending in areas important for Greece's ambitions to reach income levels elsewhere in the EU.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Europe, Greece
  • Publication Date: 07-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The economy has continued on its strong upward course and living standards – measured as real GDP per person – have risen steadily over the past decade, putting the country on track towards the government’s objective of returning to the top half of the OECD. But capacity has become increasingly strained, and monetary policy has been tightened to ensure inflation remains well anchored. The country’s prospects are bright, with potential growth projected to remain comfortably above 3% per year over the medium term
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Australia/Pacific, New Zealand
  • Publication Date: 06-2005
  • 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: Economics, Emerging Markets, Globalization, Human Welfare
  • Publication Date: 06-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: All OECD governments recognise the need to provide income support for the unemployed. But how do they ensure that income support provides a cushion for a brief period to enable the person to find a new job, without becoming a permanent alternative to work? Cutting benefit levels would automatically increase the incentive to move from welfare to work, but it would not help people to find suitable employment and would aggravate social hardship for those who do not enter employment at all. Providing income support for jobseekers while at the same time strengthening their incentive to work is a puzzle that most OECD countries are still trying to solve.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Economics, Government, Human Welfare
  • Publication Date: 06-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The science of biotechnology has been pushing the frontiers of human knowledge and intellectual property (“IP”) for three decades. As scientists developed techniques for isolating and creating genetic material and began to apply them commercially, a new industry grew and so did its appetite for patent protection. Although the wisdom of granting patents on DNA is still debated, the policy of OECD countries to allow such patents has been fairly well settled for some time. The door was therefore open for biotechnological innovators to create a flood of IP, and they did
  • Topic: Economics, Environment, Industrial Policy, Science and Technology
  • Publication Date: 06-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: France has high productivity per hour worked and a sophisticated social welfare system, but it also suffers from low labour force participation and high structural un employment. This poor labour market performance contributes to a persistent budget deficit which is exacerbating, rather than alleviating, the fiscal pressures arising from ageing. Rising public debt threatens fiscal sustainability. It is partly a result of insufficient public expenditure control an d insufficient public understanding of the need to meet long-run challenges as well as short-term targets. Aspects of the labour code designed to protect employees, and some aspects of the system of social transfers have had some unintended but perverse consequences leading to structurally high levels of unemployment and low participation rates. Dynamism and growth of activity and employment are held back by a lack of competition in a large number of service sectors.
  • Topic: Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: Europe, France
  • Publication Date: 06-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The Swedish economy has undergone impressive changes and has delivered a remarkable surge in productivity since the mid-1990s. Consequently, per capita incomes are slowly making up the ground lost in earlier decades. Labour market performance, however, has been less inspiring. Employment rates have yet to recover to their 1990 peaks and hours of work need to increase to support the welfare state.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Europe, Sweden
  • Publication Date: 05-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The Austrian economy has demonstrated the capacity to take advantage of positive external developments. Important challenges remain, however, in two areas: Fiscal performance needs to be improved despite substantial progress in securing the sustainability of government finances: government debt is still relatively high, fiscal consolidation also incorporates significant one-off measures and fiscal federal relations are often inefficient. Trend growth is still held back by low labour force participation of older workers – also a potential source of future growth deceleration, high seasonal inactivity, relatively weak productivity growth in the services and a sub-optimal environment for innovation activities.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Publication Date: 05-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Biodiversity – the variety of life and of habitats on Earth – is vital to human welfare. The loss or degradation of biodiversity can have important economic, environmental, and social consequences. Altering a watershed (the area draining into a common waterway), for example, not only leads to the potential loss of an ecosystem – through loss of habitat – but may also create economic costs for water filtration in cities using its water.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Economics, Environment, Human Welfare
  • Publication Date: 05-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Over the past two decades, governments battling budget pressures and public perceptions of civil servants as under-worked and overpaid have been seeking ways to make the public service perform better. Alongside government re-organisation and privatisation of services such as telecommunications and water, governments have been modernising the management of their civil servants.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Development, Economics, Government