11/5/2016 – OECD countries agreed today to invite Latvia to become a member of the Organisation – a move that would extend OECD’s membership to 35 countries.

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 Organisation’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.”

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12 May 2016, Riga, Latvia (from left to right) – Deputy Secretary-General of the OECD, Douglas Frantz, with Latvian Foreign Minister, Edgars Rinkēvičs Photo©Latvian Ministry of Forein Affairs

In statements made at a meeting of the Organisation’s governing Council, OECD countries expressed the wish that membership in the Organisation will bring Latvia closer to OECD standards in all fields.

During nearly three years of accession discussions, Latvia has been reviewed by 21 OECD Committees on two fronts: an evaluation of Latvia’s willingness and ability to implement substantive OECD legal instruments, as well as an evaluation of Latvia’s policies and practices as compared to OECD best policies and practices.

“With Estonia already an OECD member since 2010, Latvia now invited to join and Lithuania in the process of accession, the OECD will be much better connected to the Baltic region,” said Mr. Gurría. “The economic and financial crisis has underlined the need for our countries to work together to find appropriate policy responses to restore growth and confidence.”

For countries seeking to join the OECD such as Latvia, the accession process itself can serve as a catalyst for important reforms and support domestic policy agendas. For example, as part of its accession process, Latvia has committed to the re-establishment of boards of directors in all large commercial state-owned enterprises and has  improved its anti-money laundering regulations.

Many of Latvia’s priorities are already in line with the OECD’s agenda – for example reducing inequalities, maximising trade and investment, fostering innovation, fighting corruption and optimising the effectiveness of education, health and labour market policies. OECD membership will allow Latvia to further tap into the vast reservoir of OECD expertise, advice and policy dialogue in order to support policy-makers and reformers. OECD members will also have a greater access to Latvia’s experience in different fields and will be able to learn from it.

Latvia was invited to open accession talks in 2013, along with Colombia. Membership talks with Colombia are continuing, and in April 2015 the Council decided to open accession discussions with Costa Rica and Lithuania. In parallel, the OECD is strengthening its growing partnership with major emerging economies, including Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and South Africa. Specific country programmes are ongoing with Kazakhstan, Morocco and Peru.

An Accession Agreement between Latvia and the Organisation will be signed at a special ceremony on 2 June, during the annual meeting of the OECD Council at ministerial level in Paris. Latvia will become a member of the Organisation once it has taken the appropriate steps at the national level to accede to the OECD Convention and deposited its instrument of accession with the French government, depository of the OECD Convention.

Q&As – Accession of Latvia to the OECD

What did the OECD Council decide ?

The OECD Council agreed by unanimity to invite Latvia to become a member of the Organisation. This decision paves the way for Latvia to become the 35th Member of the OECD. 

What stage in the accession process does the Council’s decision mark?

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. 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 on 1-2 June 2016.

When will Latvia join the OECD?

The Council’s decision to invite Latvia to become a Member will be followed by the signature of an Accession Agreement. The Accession Agreement will then be opened for ratification by the Saeima.  Latvia will become a Member of the OECD on the date it deposits its instrument of accession to the OECD Convention.

What domestic changes has Latvia made as a result of the accession process?

Latvia’s accession process has involved rigorous reviews by 21 OECD technical committees, in effect a 360 degree in-depth review of Latvia’s legislation, policies and practices against OECD standards.

At the beginning of the accession process, 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. In addition, due to its status as a member of the European Union, Latvia’s legislation and policies were already in conformity with certain OECD standards, for example, 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. In the field of investment, Latvia has also taken steps to extend liberalisation benefits to all OECD Members in a number of areas. These are important achievements that will bring Latvia closer to OECD standards and best practices, devised or promoted with the aim of improving the economic and social well-being of people around the world.

What benefits will OECD membership bring to Latvia?

The OECD is the “go to” organisation leading efforts on economic growth, global competitiveness, social well-being and good governance. It provides an effective forum for governments to work together to find solutions to shared challenges. The OECD is a source of advice on almost all areas of policy-making and implementation, and supports policy makers in identifying challenges and addressing them through appropriate policies.

OECD membership will allow Latvia to tap into the vast reservoir of OECD expertise, advice and policy dialogue in order to support policy-makers and reformers. Latvia will be able to learn from the experiences of OECD Members in identifying the best options for achieving its policy goals and will participate in setting new global standards on cutting edge issues. All of this contributes to fulfilling the OECD’s goal of creating “better policies for better lives” of the citizens of its Member countries.

Which countries are currently Members of the OECD?

The OECD currently has 34 Members: Australia; Austria; Belgium; Canada; Chile; Czech Republic; Denmark; Estonia; Finland; France; Germany; Greece; Hungary; Iceland; Ireland; Israel; Italy; Japan; Korea; Luxembourg; Mexico; Netherlands; New Zealand; Norway; Poland; Portugal; Slovak Republic; Slovenia; Spain; Sweden; Switzerland; Turkey; United Kingdom; and the United States. In the Supplementary Protocol No. 1 to the Convention on the OECD of 14 December 1960, the signatories to the Convention agreed that the European Commission shall take part in the work of the OECD.

The membership of the OECD is very diverse and it includes countries in different economic situations and with different experiences and perspectives. As President Bachelet of Chile said on the occasion of Chile’s accession to the OECD Convention, the OECD can be described as “the club of countries that promote and foster best practices”.

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.

What have the key steps in Latvia’s accession process been since the OECD decided to open accession discussions with Latvia?

On 29 May 2013, the OECD Council at Ministerial Level decided to open accession discussions with Latvia.

On 15 October 2013, the OECD Council approved the Roadmap for the Accession of Latvia to the OECD Convention, which set out the terms, conditions and process for OECD accession.

On 14 February 2014, Latvia took an important first step in the accession process by submitting an Initial Memorandum which set out the country’s position on approximately 250 OECD legal instruments in force and included an assessment of the conformity of Latvia’s legislation, policies and practices with the instrument. This allowed the launch of the technical reviews in the 21 OECD committees listed in Latvia’s Accession Roadmap.

On 5 May 2014, Latvia signed an Agreement on the Privileges and Immunities of the Organisation. The purpose of this agreement is to accord to the Organisation certain privileges and immunities to ensure its independence and proper functioning. The Agreement entered into force on 7 November 2014.

21 OECD substantive committees and their subsidiary bodies conducted technical reviews of Latvia between March 2014 and April 2016.  These reviews assessed (i) the willingness and ability of Latvia to implement substantive OECD legal instruments; and (ii) Latvia’s policies and practices as compared to OECD best policies and practices. At the end of each technical review, each Committee provided a “formal opinion” on the accession of Latvia to the OECD Council.

On 11 May 2016, the OECD Council took a final decision on the accession of Latvia by unanimity on the basis of the formal opinions and other relevant information.

Which other countries are on an accession track at the OECD?

Active accession processes are underway with Colombia, Costa Rica, and Lithuania. The OECD Council decided to open accession discussions with Colombia on 29 May 2013. On 9 April 2015 the OECD Council decided to open accession discussions with Costa Rica and Lithuania. Technical reviews by OECD committees are ongoing for all three countries.

Source- OECD

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