Latvia to join OECD ‘rich nations’ club’

By on 13/05/2016
Edgars Rinkēvičs, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia (pictured right) , meeting with Douglas Frantz, deputy secretary general of the OECD

Latvia is to join the OECD, after the organisation’s council agreed unanimously to invite the small nation to become its 35th member.

The country with a population of 2m people will be the second Baltic state to join the OECD, following Estonia’s accession in 2010.

Both countries, have carried out extensive reforms since gaining independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991.

The council’s decision marks the culmination of nearly three years of accession discussions, during which Latvia has undergone in-depth reviews by 21 OECD committees, which were in effect an in-depth review of Latvia’s legislation, policies and practices against OECD standards.

Now that council has made its decision, an accession agreement will be signed between Latvia and the OECD at a special ceremony during the OECD Ministerial Council Meeting from 1-2 June.

At the beginning of the accession process in 2013, Latvia already compared well with OECD members in many areas including environment and chemicals, statistics, digital economy policy, consumer policy, science and technology policy, and trade, the OECD – often dubbed as the world’s “rich nations’ club”, has said.

Since it joined the EU in 2004, Latvia’s legislation and policies already conformed with certain OECD standards, including in the environmental field.

As a result of the accession process, Latvia has adopted legislative changes to improve its corporate governance of state-owned enterprises, to comply with the requirements of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention and to ensure unrestricted access to bank information within the scope of the OECD standard.

Latvia has also taken steps to extend liberalisation benefits in the field of investment to all OECD members in a number of areas.

OECD secretary-general Angel Gurría Said: “We are very pleased to welcome Latvia as a member of the OECD.

“This development reaffirms our organisation’s commitment to bring together countries who want to be part of this ‘house of best practices’, which aims to provide answers and solutions to the world’s leading economic and social challenges.

“I am sure that Latvia will make a great contribution to enrich the work of the OECD as a source of effective and innovative public policies, and that its OECD membership will also support Latvia’s efforts to continue improving the lives of its citizens.”

Marten Kokk, dean of the OECD’s governing council said: “OECD member states welcome the successful conclusion of the negotiations with Latvia and its accession to the OECD.

“Latvia has implemented wide-ranging structural reforms to establish a modern market economy after it restored its independence in 1991 and joining the OECD is an important acknowledgement of those efforts after joining the EU in 2004 and Euro area at the beginning of 2014.

“For the OECD, the accession of Latvia is also a significant development as the country proved to be a successful reformer and will be able to share its own important expertise with current and future members.”

The OECD currently has 34 members including Australia; Austria; Canada; Chile; France; Germany; Iceland; the Netherlands; New Zealand; Norway; Turkey; the United Kingdom; and the United States.

Active accession processes are underway with Colombia, Costa Rica, and Lithuania, where OECD committees are currently carrying out technical reviews.

Accession talks with Colombia started in May 2013, while the organisation has been in discussion with Costa Rica and Lithuania since April last year.

Beyond its membership, the OECD collaborates with more than 100 other economies around the world, including its Key Partners: Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, and South Africa.

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About Winnie Agbonlahor

Winnie is news editor of Global Government Forum. She previously reported for Civil Service World - the trade magazine for senior UK government officials. Originally from Germany, Winnie first came to the UK in 2006 to study a BA in Journalism & Russian at the University of Sheffield. She is bilingual in English and German, and, after spending an academic year abroad in Russia and reporting for the Moscow Times, Winnie also speaks Russian fluently.

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