The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
Thirty eight democracies in Europe, North America, the Pacific Rim, and Latin America comprise the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), established in 1961 and headquartered in Paris. Today, OECD member countries account for 63 percent of world GDP, three-quarters of world trade , 95 percent of world official development assistance, over half of the world's energy consumption, and 18 percent of the world's population.
The OECD is not just a grouping of economically significant nations, but also a policy forum covering a broad spectrum of economic, social, and scientific areas, from macroeconomic analysis to education to biotechnology. The OECD helps countries, both OECD members and non-members, reap the benefits and confront the challenges of a global economy by promoting economic growth, free markets, and efficient use of resources. Each substantive area is covered by a committee of member government officials, supported by Secretariat staff.
The emphasis is on discussion and peer review, rather than negotiation, though some OECD instruments are legally binding, such as the Anti-Bribery Convention. Most OECD decisions require consensus among member governments. In the past, analysis of issues in the OECD often has been instrumental in forging a consensus among OECD countries to pursue specific negotiating goals in other international fora, such as the WTO.
The OECD conducts wide-ranging outreach activities to non-member countries and to business and civil society, in particular through its series of workshops and "Global Forum" events held around the world each year. Non-members may participate as observers of committees when members believe that participation will be mutually beneficial. The OECD carries out a number of regional and bilateral cooperation programs.
The Trade Committee hosts a meeting of OECD member country trade ministers annually in the spring. The U.S. Trade Representative heads the U.S. delegation. Ministers from a number of key non-members also participate.
Trade Committee Work Program
The United States has a longstanding interest in trade issues studied by the OECD. On trade and trade policy, the OECD engages in meaningful research and provides a forum in which OECD Members can discuss complex and sometimes difficult issues. The OECD is also active in studying the balance between domestic objectives and international trade.
For years, the OECD Trade Committee, its subsidiary Working Party, and its joint working groups on environment and agriculture, continued to address a number of issues of significance to the multilateral trading system. The Trade Committee and its subsidiary groups paid significant attention to technology transfer; digital trade, including principles for market openness in the digital age and barriers to cross-border data flows; trade facilitation; services trade; and, trade and investment in global value chains. The Trade Homepage on the OECD website contains up-to-date information on published analytical work and other trade-related activities.
Dialogue with Non-OECD Members
The OECD conducts wide-ranging activities to reach out to non-Member countries, business, and civil society, in particular through its series of workshops and “Global Forum” events held around the world each year. Non-Members may participate as committee observers when Members believe that participation will be mutually beneficial. Key partners - Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, and South Africa - participate to varying degrees in OECD activities through the Enhanced Engagement program, which seeks to establish a more structured and coherent partnership, based on mutual interest, between these five major economies and OECD Members. Argentina, Brazil, and Hong Kong (China) are regular invitees to the Trade Committee and its Working Party, with Colombia and Costa Rica invited in 2019 and the Russian Federation invited on an ad hoc basis. The OECD also carries out a number of regional and bilateral cooperation programs with non-Members.
The OECD Trade Committee continues its supportive efforts with G20 countries as well as major economies in Southeast Asia. Contributing to trade-related discussions at the G20 and other relevant international fora (G7, APEC, ASEAN, etc.), through the timely use of the Committee’s evidence-based analysis and policy insights, remains a priority. The Trade Committee also continues its dialogue with civil society and discussed aspects of its work and issues of concern with representatives of civil society, including Members of the OECD’s Business and Industry Advisory Council and Trade Union Advisory Council.
Environment and Trade
USTR and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) co-chair the U.S. delegation to the OECD Joint Working Party on Trade and Environment (JWPTE), which meets twice a year.
The Joint Working Party on Trade and Environment provides a forum for discussing the effects of environmental policies on trade and the effects of trade policies on the environment, as well as for promoting mutually supportive trade and environmental policies.
Recent work has focused on the role of regional trade agreements in promoting environmental awareness and the inclusion of environmental objectives in negotiations, along with resource efficient economies and sustainable materials management.
For more information on OECD work on environment click here.
The Investment Committee of the OECD is one of the principal multilateral forum for addressing international investment issues. The Committee's discussions and analytical work help build international consensus on key emerging policy challenges with respect to international investment and on ways to promote sound investment policy and high standards of investment protection. The Committee also seeks to promote voluntary adherence by multinational enterprises to sound business practices. The Committee is responsible for monitoring and implementing the OECD Codes of Liberalization and the OECD Declaration on International Investment and Multinational Enterprises. The United States plays a major role in shaping investment-related work within the OECD.
The OECD Steel Committee engages in regular monitoring of steel markets and international steel trade, including barriers to trade and restrictions on trade in steelmaking raw materials. The Committee’s analytical work is currently focused on the role of state enterprises in the global steel sector and the causes and market impact of excess steel production capacity, particularly in countries such as China. The United States supports efforts by the OECD Secretariat to build a comprehensive database of subsidies and other government support to steel enterprises, as well as its efforts to trace and examine the flows of various types of steel products across different countries.
Steel Committee members include large, non-OECD member steel-producing countries, such as Brazil and Russia. Additional large steel-producing countries, including China and India, frequently participate in Steel Committee meetings.