SA explores joining ‘rich man’s club’ of nations

Talks are under way to explore the possibility of South Africa being invited to join the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) — the so-called “rich man’s club” of nations.

The 30 OECD countries have already given the green light for the start of accession talks with five prospective new members — Chile, Estonia, Israel, Russia and Slovenia — signalling a new stage in the organisation’s drive to broaden and deepen its involvement with emerging new players in the global economy.

In parallel, the OECD announced last month plans to engage more closely with other significant economies, notably Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and South Africa.

Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, speaking in the margins of the OECD-sponsored Forum on Tax Administration currently under way in Cape Town, said on Thursday that developing countries are already aligning themselves with the OECD. He mentioned Mexico and South Korea, which are full members.

Others like South Africa take part in some committees of the organisation. This country sits on the committee on fiscal affairs, under which the Cape Town forum is held. Currently 25 non-members sit in 43 committees and main working groups.

The route to joining the organisation begins with a decision by its council to ask the secretary general to open discussions for accession with one or several countries selected by the council. The accession process serves as a tool to increase the policy convergence of the country considered for membership with existing OECD members.

An “accession road map” is then developed to detail the process. This lists the reviews to be undertaken in various policy areas in order to assess the country’s position with respect to the relevant OECD instruments, standards and benchmarks, and identifies the committees and working groups to be involved in such reviews.

The reviews take place in a non-predetermined time span, and their results are reported to the council, which takes a final decision on a basis of unanimity. Once this decision has been taken, the candidate deposits an instrument of accession to the OECD Convention with the French government.

Manuel said the main benefit of joining the organisation would be in the exchanges of information. “This forum is one of the places where information is exchanged,” he said. “We want to be able to take this forward.” — I-Net Bridge

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Michael Hamlyn
Michael Hamlyn works from Cape Town. Late middle age journalist

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