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The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD; French: Organisation de Coopération et de Développement Économiques, OCDE) is an intergovernmental economic organisation with 37 member countries, founded in 1961 to stimulate economic progress and world trade. It is a forum of countries describing themselves as committed to democracy and the market economy, providing a platform to compare policy experiences, seek answers to common problems, identify good practices and coordinate domestic and international policies of its members. Generally, OECD members are high-income economies with a very high Human Development Index (HDI) and are regarded as developed countries. As of 2017, the OECD member countries collectively comprised 62.2% of global nominal GDP (US$49.6 trillion) and 42.8% of global GDP (Int$54.2 trillion) at purchasing power parity. The OECD is an official United Nations observer.
In 1948, the OECD originated as the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC), led by Robert Marjolin of France, to help administer the Marshall Plan (which was rejected by the Soviet Union and its satellite states). This would be achieved by allocating United States financial aid and implementing economic programs for the reconstruction of Europe after World War II.
In 1961, the OEEC was reformed into the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development by the Convention on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and membership was extended to non-European states. The OECD's headquarters are at the Château de la Muette in Paris, France. The OECD is funded by contributions from member countries at varying rates and had a total budget of €386 million in 2019.
Although OECD does not have a power to enforce its decisions, which further require unanimous vote from its members, it is recognised as highly influential publisher of mostly economic data through publications as well as annual evaluations and rankings of members countries.
Organisation for European Economic Co-operation
The Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC) was formed in 1948 to administer American and Canadian aid in the framework of the Marshall Plan for the reconstruction of Europe after World War II. Similar reconstruction aid was sent to the war-torn Republic of China and post-war Korea, but not under the name "Marshall Plan". The organisation started its operations on 16 April 1948, and originated from the work done by the Committee of European Economic Co-operation in 1947 in preparation for the Marshall Plan. Since 1949, it has been headquartered in the Château de la Muette in Paris, France. After the Marshall Plan ended, the OEEC focused on economic issues.
In the 1950s, the OEEC provided the framework for negotiations aimed at determining conditions for setting up a European Free Trade Area, to bring the European Economic Community of the six and the other OEEC members together on a multilateral basis. In 1958, a European Nuclear Energy Agency was set up under the OEEC.
By the end of the 1950s, with the job of rebuilding Europe effectively done, some leading countries felt that the OEEC had outlived its purpose, but could be adapted to fulfill a more global mission. It would be a hard-fought task, and after several sometimes fractious meetings at the Hotel Majestic in Paris starting in January 1960, a resolution was reached to create a body that would deal not only with European and Atlantic economic issues, but devise policies to assist less developed countries. This reconstituted organisation would bring the US and Canada, who were already OEEC observers, on board as full members. It would also set to work straight away on bringing in Japan.
Following the 1957 Rome Treaties to launch the European Economic Community, the Convention on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development was drawn up to reform the OEEC. The Convention was signed in December 1960 and the OECD officially superseded the OEEC in September 1961. It consisted of the European founder countries of the OEEC plus the United States and Canada (three countries, Netherlands, Luxembourg and Italy, all OEEC members, ratified the OECD Convention after September 1961 but are nevertheless considered founding members). The official founding members are:
During the next 12 years Japan, Finland, Australia, and New Zealand also joined the organisation. Yugoslavia had observer status in the organisation starting with the establishment of the OECD until its dissolution as a country.
Enlargement to Central Europe
In 1989, after the Revolutions of 1989, the OECD started to assist countries in Central Europe (especially the Visegrád Group) to prepare market economy reforms. In 1990, the Centre for Co-operation with European Economies in Transition (now succeeded by the Centre for Cooperation with Non-Members) was established, and in 1991, the Programme "Partners in Transition" was launched for the benefit of Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Poland. This programme also included a membership option for these countries. As a result of this, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia, as well as Mexico and South Korea became members of the OECD between 1994 and 2000.
Reform and further enlargement
In the 1990s, a number of European countries, now members of the European Union, expressed their willingness to join the organisation. In 1995, Cyprus applied for membership, but, according to the Cypriot government, it was vetoed by Turkey. In 1996, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania signed a Joint Declaration expressing willingness to become full members of the OECD. Slovenia also applied for membership that same year. In 2005, Malta applied to join the organisation. The EU is lobbying for admission of all EU member states. Romania reaffirmed in 2012 its intention to become a member of the organisation through the letter addressed by the Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta to OECD Secretary-General José Ángel Gurría. In September 2012, the government of Bulgaria confirmed it will apply for full membership before the OECD Secretariat.
The OECD established a working group headed by ambassador Seiichiro Noboru, to work out a plan for the enlargement with non-members. The working group defined four criteria which fullfilment is required: "like-mindedness", "significant player", "mutual benefit" and "global considerations". The working group's recommendations were presented at the OECD Ministerial Council Meeting on 13 May 2004. On 16 May 2007, the OECD Ministerial Council decided to open accession discussions with Chile, Estonia, Israel, Russia and Slovenia and to strengthen co-operation with Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and South Africa through a process of enhanced engagement. Chile, Slovenia, Israel and Estonia all became members in 2010. In March 2014, the OECD halted membership talks with Russia in response to its role in the 2014 Annexation of Crimea.
In 2013, the OECD decided to open membership talks with Colombia and Latvia. In 2015, it opened talks with Costa Rica and Lithuania. Latvia became a full member on 1 July 2016 and Lithuania on 5 July 2018. Colombia signed the accession agreement on 30 May 2018 and became a full member on 28 April 2020. On 15 May 2020, the OECD decided to extend a formal invitation for Costa Rica to join the OECD.
Objectives and activities
The OECD publishes and updates a model tax convention that serves as a template for allocating taxation rights between countries. This model is accompanied by a set of commentaries that reflect OECD-level interpretation of the content of the model convention provisions. In general, this model allocates the primary right to tax to the country from which capital investment originates (i.e., the home, or resident country) rather than the country in which the investment is made (the host, or source country). As a result, it is most effective as between two countries with reciprocal investment flows (such as among the OECD member countries), but can be unbalanced when one of the signatory countries is economically weaker than the other (such as between OECD and non-OECD pairings). Additionally, the OECD has published and updated the Transfer Pricing Guidelines since 1995. The Transfer Pricing Guidelines serve as a template for profit allocation of intercompany transactions to countries. The latest version, of July 2017, incorporates the approved Actions developed under the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project initiated by the G20.
The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises are a set of legally nonbinding guidelines attached as an annex to the OECD Declaration on International Investment and Multinational Enterprises. They are recommendations providing principles and standards for responsible business conduct for multinational corporations operating in or from countries adhering to the Declaration.
The OECD publishes books, reports, statistics, working papers and reference materials. All titles and databases published since 1998 can be accessed via OECD iLibrary.
The OECD Library & Archives collection dates from 1947, including records from the Committee for European Economic Co-operation (CEEC) and the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC), predecessors of today's OECD. External researchers can consult OECD publications and archival material on the OECD premises by appointment.
The OECD releases between 300 and 500 books each year. The publications are updated accordingly to the OECD iLibrary. Most books are published in English and French. The OECD flagship[vague] titles include:
- The OECD Economic Outlook, published twice a year. It contains forecast and analysis of the economic situation of the OECD member countries. The OECD exceptionally published the 2020 Economic Outlook on June 10, 2020 to adjust economic forecasts greatly impacted by the Coronavirus since the March Interim Economic Outlook. The June Economic Outlook assesses the economic impact of COVID-19 and provides projections for economic impact if a second outbreak were to occur.
- The Main Economic Indicators, published monthly. It contains a large selection of timely statistical indicators.
- The OECD Factbook, published yearly and available online, as an iPhone app and in print. The Factbook contains more than 100 economic, environmental and social indicators, each presented with a clear definition, tables and graphs. The Factbook mainly focuses on the statistics of its member countries and sometimes other major additional countries. It is freely accessible online and delivers all the data in Excel format via StatLinks.
- The OECD Communications Outlook and the OECD Internet Economy Outlook (formerly the Information Technology Outlook), which rotate every year. They contain forecasts and analysis of the communications and information technology industries in OECD member countries and non-member economies.
- In 2007 the OECD published Human Capital: How what you know shapes your life, the first book in the OECD Insights series. This series uses OECD analysis and data to introduce important social and economic issues to non-specialist readers. Other books in the series cover sustainable development, international trade and international migration.
All OECD books are available on the OECD iLibrary, the online bookshop or OECD Library & Archives.[n 1]
OECD Observer, an award-winning magazine[n 2] launched in 1962. The magazine appeared six times a year until 2010, and became quarterly in 2011 with the introduction of the OECD Yearbook, launched for the 50th anniversary of the organisation. The online and mobile editions are updated regularly. News, analysis, reviews, commentaries and data on global economic, social and environmental challenges. Contains listing of the latest OECD books, plus ordering information. An OECD Observer Crossword was introduced in Q2 2013.
The OECD is known as a statistical agency, as it publishes comparable statistics on a wide number of subjects. In July 2014, the OECD publicly released its main statistical databases through the OECD Data Portal, an online platform that allows visitors to create custom charts based on official OECD indicators.
OECD statistics are available in several forms:
- as interactive charts on the OECD Data Portal,
- as interactive databases on iLibrary together with key comparative and country tables,
- as static files or dynamic database views on the OECD Statistics portal,
- as StatLinks (in most OECD books, there is a URL that links to the underlying data).
There are 15 working papers series published by the various directorates of the OECD Secretariat. They are available on iLibrary, as well as on many specialised portals.
The OECD is responsible for the OECD Guidelines for the Testing of Chemicals, a continuously updated document that is a de facto standard (i.e., soft law).
It has published the OECD Environmental Outlook to 2030, which shows that tackling the key environmental problems we face today—including climate change, biodiversity loss, water scarcity, and the health impacts of pollution—is both achievable and affordable.
The OECD's structure consists of three main elements:
- The OECD member countries, each represented by a delegation led by an ambassador. Together, they form the OECD Council. Member countries act collectively through Council (and its Standing Committees) to provide direction and guidance to the work of Organisation.
- The OECD Substantive Committees, one for each work area of the OECD, plus their variety of subsidiary bodies. Committee members are typically subject-matter experts from member and non-member governments. The Committees oversee all the work on each theme (publications, task forces, conferences, and so on). Committee members then relay the conclusions to their capitals.
- The OECD Secretariat, led by the Secretary-General (currently Ángel Gurría), provides support to Standing and Substantive Committees. It is organised into Directorates, which include about 2,500 staff.
Delegates from the member countries attend committees' and other meetings. Former Deputy Secretary-General estimated in 1997 that the cost borne by the member countries, such as sending their officials to OECD meetings and maintaining permanent delegations, is equivalent to the cost of running the secretariat. This ratio is unique among inter-governmental organisations. In other words, the OECD is more a persistent forum or network of officials and experts than an administration.
The OECD regularly holds minister-level meetings and forums as platforms for a discussion on a broad spectrum of thematic issues relevant to the OECD charter, member countries, and non-member countries.
Noteworthy meetings include:
- The yearly Ministerial Council Meeting, with the Ministers of Economy of all member countries and the candidates for enhanced engagement among the countries.
- The annual OECD Forum, which brings together leaders from business, government, labour, civil society and international organisations. Held every year since June 2000, the OECD Forum takes the form of conferences and discussions, is open to public participation and is held in conjunction with the MCM.
- Thematic Ministerial Meetings, held among Ministers of a given domain (i.e., all Ministers of Labour, all Ministers of Environment, etc.).
- The bi-annual World Forum on Statistics, Knowledge and Policies, which does not usually take place in the OECD. This series of meetings has the ambition to measure and foster progress in societies.
- OECD Eurasia Week which includes several high-level policy dialogue discussions to share best practices and experiences in addressing common development and economic challenges in Eurasia.
Exchanges between OECD governments benefit from the information, analysis, and preparation of the OECD Secretariat. The secretariat collects data, monitors trends, and analyses and forecasts economic developments. Under the direction and guidance of member governments, it also researches social changes or evolving patterns in trade, environment, education, agriculture, technology, taxation, and other areas.
The secretariat is organised in Directorates:
- Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions and Cities
- Centre for Tax Policy and Administration
- Development Co-operation Directorate
- Directorate for Education and Skills
- Directorate for Employment, Labour, and Social Affairs
- Directorate for Financial and Enterprise Affairs
- Directorate for Science, Technology, and Innovation
- Economics Department
- Environment Directorate
- Public Governance Directorate
- Statistics Directorate
- Trade and Agriculture Directorate
- General Secretariat
- Executive Directorate
- Public Affairs and Communication Directorate
|No.||Secretary-General||Time served||Country of origin|
|1||Robert Marjolin||1948 – 1955||France|
|2||1955 – 1960||France|
|3||Thorkil Kristensen||1960 – September 1961||Denmark|
|No.||Secretary-General||Time served||Country of origin||Notes|
|1||Thorkil Kristensen||30 September 1961 – 30 September 1969||Denmark|
|2||Emiel van Lennep||1 October 1969 – September 1984||Netherlands|
|3||Jean-Claude Paye||1 October 1984 – 30 September 1994||France|
|—||Staffan Sohlman (interim)||1 October 1994 – November 1994||Sweden|||
|3||Jean-Claude Paye||November 1994 – 30 May 1996||France|||
|4||Donald Johnston||1 June 1996 – 30 May 2006||Canada|
|5||José Ángel Gurría||1 June 2006 – present||Mexico|||
Representatives of member and observer countries meet in specialised committees on specific policy areas, such as economics, trade, science, employment, education or financial markets. There are about 200 committees, working groups and expert groups. Committees discuss policies and review progress in the given policy area.
OECD has a number of specialized bodies:
- Africa Partnership Forum
- Business and Industry Advisory Committee (BIAC)
- Development Assistance Committee
- OECD Development Centre
- International Transport Forum (ITF) (formally known as the European Conference of Ministers of Transport)
- International Energy Agency
- Nuclear Energy Agency
- Partnership for Democratic Governance (PDG)
- Sahel and West Africa Club
- Trade Union Advisory Committee (TUAC)
Decision making process
OECD decisions are made through voting, which requires unanimity among all of those voting. However, dissenting members which do not wish to block a decision but merely to signal their disapproval can abstain from voting.
There are currently 37 members of the OECD.
|Australia||7 June 1971||Oceania|
|Austria||29 September 1961||Europe||OEEC member.|
|Belgium||13 September 1961||Europe||OEEC member.|
|Canada||10 April 1961||North America|
|Chile||November 2003||16 May 2007||15 December 2009||7 May 2010||South America|
|Colombia||24 January 2011||30 May 2013||25 May 2018||28 April 2020||South America|
|Czech Republic||January 1994||8 June 1994||24 November 1995||21 December 1995||Europe||Was a member of the rival Comecon from 1949 to 1991 as part of Czechoslovakia.|
|Denmark||30 May 1961||Europe||OEEC member.|
|Estonia||16 May 2007||10 May 2010||9 December 2010||Europe|
|Finland||28 January 1969||Europe|
|France||7 August 1961||Europe||OEEC member.|
|Germany||27 September 1961||Europe||Joined OEEC in 1949 (West Germany). Previously represented by the Trizone. East Germany was a member of the rival Comecon from 1950 until German reunification in 1990.|
|Greece||27 September 1961||Europe||OEEC member.|
|Hungary||December 1993||8 June 1994||7 May 1996||Europe||Was a member of the rival Comecon from 1949 to 1991.|
|Iceland||5 June 1961||Europe||OEEC member.|
|Ireland||17 August 1961||Europe||OEEC member.|
|Israel||15 March 2004||16 May 2007||10 May 2010||7 September 2010||West Asia|
|Italy||29 March 1962||Europe||OEEC member.|
|Japan||November 1962||July 1963||28 April 1964||East Asia|
|South Korea||29 March 1995||25 October 1996||12 December 1996||East Asia||Officially the Republic of Korea|
|Latvia||29 May 2013||11 May 2016||1 July 2016||Europe|
|Lithuania||9 April 2015||31 May 2018||5 July 2018||Europe|
|Luxembourg||7 December 1961||Europe||OEEC member.|
|Mexico||14 April 1994||18 May 1994||North America|
|Netherlands||13 November 1961||Europe||OEEC member.|
|New Zealand||29 May 1973||Oceania|
|Norway||4 July 1961||Europe||OEEC member.|
|Poland||1 February 1994||8 June 1994||11 July 1996||22 November 1996||Europe||Was a member of the rival Comecon from 1949 to 1991.|
|Portugal||4 August 1961||Europe||OEEC member.|
|Slovakia||February 1994||8 June 1994||July 2000||14 December 2000||Europe||Was a member of the rival Comecon from 1949 to 1991 as part of Czechoslovakia.|
|Slovenia||March 1996||16 May 2007||10 May 2010||21 July 2010||Europe|
|Spain||3 August 1961||Europe||Joined OEEC in 1958.|
|Sweden||28 September 1961||Europe||OEEC member.|
|Switzerland||28 September 1961||Europe||OEEC member.|
|Turkey||2 August 1961||West Asia||OEEC member.|
|United Kingdom||2 May 1961||Europe||OEEC member.|
|United States||12 April 1961||North America|
Countries invited to join
In May 2013, the OECD declared its intention to open accession negotiations with Costa Rica in 2015. On 9 April 2015, the OECD decided to open accession negotiations with Costa Rica. On 15 May 2020, the OECD invited Costa Rica to join the OECD.
Countries whose accession talks are suspended
Countries whose membership request is under consideration by the OECD Council
The following table shows various data for OECD member countries, including area, population, economic output, and income inequality, as well as various composite indices, including human development, viability of the state, rule of law, perception of corruption, economic freedom, state of peace, freedom of the press, and democratic level.
 (Intl. $)
|Note: The colours indicate the country's global position in the respective indicator. For example, a green cell indicates that the country is ranked in the upper 25% of the list (including all countries with available data).|
|Highest quartile||Upper-mid (3rd quartile)||Lower-mid (2nd quartile)||Lowest quartile|
Potential member states
 (Intl. $)
|Highest quartile||Upper-mid (3rd quartile)||Lower-mid (2nd quartile)||Lowest quartile|
- Marshall Plan
- Frascati Manual
- German Marshall Fund
- Good laboratory practice
- International organisations in Europe
- Friedrich Alfred Kahnert
- List of country groupings
- List of multilateral free-trade agreements
- OECD Anti-Bribery Convention
- OECD Better Life Index
- OECD Environmental Performance Reviews
- OECD iLibrary (replaced SourceOECD in July 2010)
- OECD Working Party on SMEs and Entrepreneurship
- Official development assistance
- Transfer pricing
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- Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
- OECD iLibrary – OECD's portal for books, reports, statistics, working papers and journals
- SDG Pathfinder - explore content on SDGs from six international organizations (powered by the OECD)
- OECD 60th anniversary