OECD partnership with China raises quality of life

OECD partnership with China raises quality of life
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Secretary General Angel Gurria talks while presenting the advance G-20 OECD Economic Oulook on November 6, 2014 during a press conference at the OECD headquarters in Paris.

This year we (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) proudly celebrate the 20th anniversary of China-OECD relations. Over these past 20 years, we have forged a mutually beneficial partnership that is not only improving people's lives in China and around the world, but also creating the building blocks for more resilient, inclusive and green economies. Today, China is a key OECD partner country and we look forward to deepening our engagement further in the years to come.

Our relationship began in 1995 when we co-organised a policy dialogue on trade and investment. Since then, it has broadened to meet the ever-growing global requirements for better policy analysis, design and implementation. The policy dialogue with the OECD addresses issues that affect people throughout their lives.

Working hand-in-hand, the OECD and China have achieved a number of milestones, providing evidence-based analysis through regular economic surveys, sectoral policy reviews and thematic studies in a broad range of areas, including agriculture, corporate governance, public administration, taxes, environment, urban development, science and technology, and education.

This is a mutually beneficial relationship. China is benefiting from the OECD's ability to bring together expertise and experience from a wide range of countries and policy communities, and the OECD benefits from China's accumulated experiences. For instance, the OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment ranked Shanghai top of the list on financial literacy, with the share of top performers in financial literacy in Shanghai at 42.6 per cent of students compared with 8 per cent on average in OECD countries. As a result, the United Kingdom has set up a mathematic teacher exchange programme so that its teachers can learn the most effective teaching methods from their counterparts in Shanghai.

China is also actively engaged in the work of OECD technical committees and has adhered to numerous OECD instruments such as the Declaration on International Science and Technological Cooperation for Sustainable Development. At present, China's economy is undergoing a significant transformation and the OECD stands ready to support it.

China is now moving toward a slower, but more sustainable growth rate, the "new normal". If the next 20 years are to be as bright as the last, China will have to overcome a number of important challenges. In particular, the government will need to manage the transition from rural to urban society, public to private enterprises, prime-age to aging population, investment-to consumption-based growth, and manufacturing to service economy. This will call for a raft of structural reforms across a range of policy domains.

The 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20) represents an important opportunity for China to make this happen. The OECD is proud to have been asked to make a substantial contribution to the government's preparation for this plan. This year we have prepared three reports for the National Development and Reform Commission as inputs for the 13th Five-Year Plan - China in a Changing Global Environment, All on Board: Making Inclusive Growth Happen in China, and A National Urban Policy Review of China.

Looking ahead, we should continue to consolidate and deepen this mutually beneficial partnership. China could make even greater use of the OECD's pioneering indicators, such as the Measure of Trade in Value-Added, which is changing the way we look at trade and investment and how we design policies to engage in Global Value Chains.

Naturally, we must continue to address global challenges together. Our partnership in the framework of the G20 has been paramount in stabilizing the global economy and avoiding an outright collapse of the international financial system. For instance, China's role, along with those of other G20 and OECD countries, remains critical in the global fight against tax evasion. The same can be said about its support for the development of a coherent set of international tax rules to end base erosion and profit shifting.

Philosopher Lao Tzu said: "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." China and the OECD have taken not one but many steps over the past two decades toward a comprehensive and mutually beneficial partnership. We will continue working together to learn from each other, to think creatively and to make the world a better place for the present and future generations. Together, we can design, develop and deliver better policies for better lives.

The author is secretary-general of the OECD.

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