Texte en français


(16-17 May 2001)

By the TUAC Secretariat


1. The OECD Ministerial Council and the parallel (Forum) meetings were dominated by the attitude of the new US Administration to three issues:- the launching of a new trade round at the WTO Ministerial in November; the withdrawal of Administration support for the Kyoto Protocol on climate change; and the withdrawal of support for the OECD work to outlaw tax havens. This detracted from a sense of urgency on the immediate economic situation which continues to deteriorate, the OECD growth project and broader discussion on sustainable development.

2. Nevertheless, the communiqué restates the 2000 Ministerial meeting theme of “shaping globalisation”, which is significant in that it focuses on governance of global markets as opposed to mere deregulation. In addition, it says that governments are committed to doing this in the “benefit of all, and ensuring that the poorest are not left behind” (§ 4). The trade session of the Ministerial involved a dialogue with selected non-member countries (Brazil, China, Indonesia, Mali, Romania, Russia, Singapore and South Africa). On the trade union side the General Secretary of NACTU South Africa took an active part in the delegation that met the Ministers.

3. The Ministerial was preceded both by a meeting of Environment Ministers and a major conference (OECD Forum 2001) as in 2000, which is described in the communiqué as “an effective multi-stakeholder dialogue”. Trade union delegations took part in both events. Unlike in the 2000 Ministerial there was a discussion to establish a “Public Interest Advisory Committee”. Instead the communiqué notes “OECD’s enhanced co-operation with its long-standing partners BIAC and TUAC has been complemented over the last year by strengthened co-operative activities with NGO’s and other representatives of civil society” (§ 7). 

Trade Issues

4. Trade issues and the prospects of a new round to be launched at the WTO Ministerial in Doha dominated much at the Ministerial discussions and the consultations with TUAC and BIAC. The economics and trade Ministers taking part seemed relieved that they could agree that they are “committed to the launch of a new global round of multilateral trade negotiations of the WTO Ministerial Conference in Doha in November”. Issues, such as to whether this is designed to be narrow or broad road, developing country views and the issues of environment and labour remain unclear. In a potentially significant section the communiqué says: “All WTO Members will need to be creative and flexible in addressing areas and modalities of negotiation. Trade and labour as well as other social development issues raise concerns that must be addressed through dialogue that takes into account the expertise of all relevant international institutions, including the WTO” (§ 34).


5. In the section on “governance” particular attention is given to the implementation of the anti-bribery convention and the need to move ahead on related issues including bribery of “foreign political parties” (§ 28). Given the Bush Administration’s much criticised attack on the OECD work on eliminating tax havens, all the communiqué can say is “we note the work undertaken on harmful tax practices and look forward to the conclusions of the OECD project (§ 29).

6. A re-affirmation of commitment is given to the OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises (§ 31). It welcomes the intention of eight further countries to adhere to the OECD Declaration, which includes the Guidelines (Estonia, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, Singapore, Slovenia and Venezuela).

7. On export credits the Ministers repeated a call for work on environment Guidelines to be completed by the end of 2001.

Sustainable Development

8. The central discussion at the Ministerial and at the parallel meeting of Environment Ministers was the criticism by other countries of the Bush Administration’s decisions to withdraw support for the Kyoto Protocol on climate change limiting CO2 emissions. In the end, the compromise communiqué said: “While recognising our differences over the Kyoto Protocol, OECD governments are determined to work together to address climate change and will participate constructively in the resumed COP 6 in Bonn. For a large majority of OECD countries this means seeking entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol by 2002, with timely ratification processes, and with the broadest possible support of the international community” (§ 14).

9. TUAC will continue to push for an adequate work programme on the social dimension of sustainable development. The communiqué does have a section on “the social dimension of sustainable development” (§ 16-19). This refers simply to OECD work on social cohesion, health and migration. Whilst these are desirable in their own right they do not reflect the content of background documents which were adopted by the OECD Council, some of which originated from the Environment Ministers. A separate TUAC note on the Environment Ministers’ meeting comments on these elements of work.

Economic Policy and Growth

10. In stark contrast to the 2000 Ministerial Council, this year’s meeting came against the background of rapidly deteriorating growth prospects. OECD growth is forecast to be only 2% in 2001 - half that in 2000 and 30% lower than that forecast by the OECD six months ago. Despite this, little urgency or commitment for action is given by Finance Ministers to the necessary action or stimulus measures to restore faster growth. Instead they argue “macroeconomic policies and structural reforms should aim to enhance productivity growth and increase employment over the long term” (§ 8).

11. The Ministers were given the completed OECD growth project. This also failed to adequately deal with the importance of maintaining macroeconomic policies that achieve the highest level of sustainable growth. Instead, the communiqué states: “Stable macroeconomic policies are a prerequisite for a successful growth strategy, higher employment and price stability. Fiscal discipline and productivity-oriented wage developments contribute to low inflation, and reduce uncertainty, thus enhancing the efficiency of price mechanisms in allocating resources and strengthening consumer and investor confidence.” (§ 20). More usefully the report strongly emphasises human and social capital. Whilst this is referred to in general terms the stronger conclusions of the Report on the need to raise teachers’ pay and give workers “voice” a hearing do not find their way into the final communiqué. These are contained however in the Executive Summary of the Report made available to Ministers. The communiqué notes that the OECD will continue its analysis on the role of ICT and human and social capital (§ 21).

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Capturé par MemoWeb à partir de http://www.tuac.org/news/nevmin2001e.htm  le 25/03/02
Capturé par MemoWeb à partir de http://www.tuac.org/news/nevmin2001e.htm  le 25/03/02