The topic of the visit will be maximizing the benefits of Israel’s membership in the OECD.

 OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria visits Israel

 

Pres. Peres and OECD Sec-Gen Gurria (Photo: Mark Neiman, GPO)

(Communicated by the MFA Spokesperson)

The Secretary General of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Mr. Angel Gurria, will be in Israel for an official visit as the guest of PM Benjamin Netanyahu on November 20-22. This will be the Secretary General’s third visit since the OECD announced, in May 2007, that Israel would be joining its ranks. The topic of the visit will be maximizing the benefits of Israel’s membership in the OECD.

During his visit, Mr. Gurria will meet with President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, Industry Trade and Labor Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, and Governor of the Bank of Israel Prof. Stanley Fischer. Sec-Gen Gurria will also attend the Cabinet meeting on Sunday, November 21, where the Cabinet ministers will have a chance to report on the activities of their respective ministries vis-à-vis the OECD and their implementation of the recommendations appearing in the latest reports of the organization.

Sec-Gen Gurria will attend a meeting of industrialists that was organized by Mr. Shraga Brosh, Chair of the Federation of Israeli Economic Organizations, and participate in a round-table discussion on global economic issues organized by BOI Governor Fischer, to be held at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya. In addition, Mr. Gurria will receive an honorary degree from the University of Haifa.

Sec-Gen Gurria will be the opening speaker at a seminar on maximizing the benefits of Israel’s membership in the OECD. The two-day seminar will open in Ma’ale Hahamisha on November 22.

PM Netanyahu at Cabinet meeting (21 November):

"We welcome you today to our Cabinet meeting, our friend Angel Gurria, the Secretary General of the OECD. Israel has recently joined the OECD. We said that we would honor our commitments and one of them is to invite you to our Cabinet meeting. We very much appreciate all the effort that you have made. In fact, our acceptance to the OECD was a product of many difficult reforms in Israel carried out over the years, but even that would not have been sufficient without your efforts, Angel. So we’re deeply appreciative and I am very happy to welcome you on behalf of my colleagues in the Cabinet to this deliberation in Jerusalem and I’m looking forward to hearing the various ideas that you have because we can learn a lot from the OECD.
 
Our acceptance into the OCED was contingent on many reforms that we needed to enact, reforms that would open Israel to imports and free the currency, reforms regarding budgetary restraint and lowering taxes, capital market reforms, pension reforms, support payment reforms, and privatization. All of these were subject to fierce debate; there was no agreement on them. It was not easy to enact them. Since I led many of them, I can say: It was very difficult and we have now received a stamp of approval in that we have been accepted into this organization of the most advanced economies in the world. This is an indication of what we have achieved up to now, but it is no substitute for what awaits us.
 
Ours is a country that depends on export markets. The Israeli economy is currently performing better that most of the world’s advanced economies. Therefore, if we count only on exports, we will be unable to keep advancing at the same pace to which we are accustomed. Consequently, we must develop growth engines that do not depend on world markets. There is one such growth engine – the construction and real estate markets in Israel. Young couples marry and have children and, naturally, they want apartments, they need homes, malls and schools. All this is related to construction and this is a growth engine in and of itself.
 
We are leading a series of reforms and other changes that we need to enact. Today, I submit to the Cabinet one of the steps that we have been discussing – reductions in the historic betterment tax. There will be many other such changes. We must get this engine started.  But this does not detract from the important milestone of our entry into the OECD." 

Background:

Israel was accepted as a full member of the OECD in September 2010, after a long process which involved the preparation of reports; hearings at various OECD committees; legislative changes, and other requirements detailed in the “Roadmap” presented to Israel at the beginning of 2008. Many government ministries were involved in the accession process. The final approval for Israel’s accession as the 33rd member of the OECD was given at the annual summit of OECD ministers that met in Paris in May of this year, at which the Israeli prime minister, minister of finance and minister of industry, trade and labor were present. The accession agreement was signed in Paris in June, 2010, by Israel’s ambassador in Paris and the OECD secretary general. As soon as the secretary general announced Israel’s accession, Israel officially opened its OECD embassy, headed by Israel’s Permanent Representative to the OECD, Amb. Nimrod Barkan.

The seminar, "Israel and the OECD: Maximizing the Benefits of Israel Membership to the OECD," will open with addresses by Sec-Gen Gurria, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, and Dep. Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon. It will include details about the work of the various OECD committees, an outline of the organization’s goals for the next few years, and revelation of the various positions to which Israel will be able to submit candidacy.