The past few decades have seen developing and emerging economies playing an ever-larger role in the world economy. According to OECD estimates from a few years back, in 2011 China and India accounted for 24% of the global economy; by 2060 that was forecast to rise to 46%, overtaking the combined total for current OECD Members.
These shifts have been reflected in changes in the governance of the global economy, for example the expanding role of the G20, of which the OECD is an active partner. They are also reflected in the deepening co-operation between the OECD and non-Member economies and, in particular, with a number of Key Partners – Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and South Africa. This year brings a significant milestone in this process, with China and the OECD marking 20 years of partnership.
The relationship between China and the OECD began modestly enough, with the organisation of a workshop in 1995 on trade and investment. In the years since, it has blossomed: “Today, over 30 Chinese ministries and agencies have been engaged in co-operation with the OECD,” writes Gao Hucheng, Minister of Commerce, in a brochure marking the 20-year anniversary. Areas covered by the OECD-China partnership include economic policy, trade, investment, development, finance and taxation, science and technology, environment, education, agriculture, statistics, anti-corruption, competition and global governance, to name just a few.
Among the more visible aspects of this co-operation are the OECD’s regular surveys of China’s economy, China’s active role in key OECD/G20 initiatives such as the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project, as well as the participation of Shanghai in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). In 2012, Shanghai students topped the global rankings, maintaining their strong performance from the previous round. China’s participation in PISA is set to deepen, with the addition of Beijing, Jiangsu and Guangdong to the 2015 round.
For both China and the OECD, the benefits of the partnership have clearly been substantial. Writing in the anniversary brochure, Minister Liu He from the Office of the Central Leading Group on Financial and Economic Affairs, describes the partnership as “a mutual learning process [that] has been instrumental in enhancing China’s policy-making capacity”. Lou Jiwei, Minister of Finance, says the “pragmatic and effective” co-operation has “helped China better understand development policies and practices applied by advanced economies.”
On the OECD side, Secretary-General Angel Gurría says China’s active engagement with OECD bodies “enriches the discussion and makes the work undertaken by the Organisation more relevant and valuable”. He adds that China’s adherence to certain OECD instruments “can reinforce the efforts made by countries at different stages of development to address common challenges.”
The importance of China to the OECD is also underlined by William White, Chair of the OECD Economic and Development Review Committee (EDRC): “If it is welcome that China is learning from the experiences of others, China is teaching as well. Its remarkable advances in recent years hold many lessons for others and these are often referred to in the EDRC Reviews of other countries.”
One practical example of how OECD Members are learning from China’s experience comes from the United Kingdom, which has launched a maths teacher exchange with Shanghai. “Our teachers can identify the most effective teaching methods from Shanghai, bring them back to the UK and share them through our maths hub network so all schools benefit,” writes, Nick Gibb MP, Minister of State for School Reform.
Building on the success of the past 20 years, the partnership between China and the OECD looks set to grow even stronger in the coming decades. Last November, the OECD signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Commerce. That agreement, says the OECD, “maps out a common blueprint for future co-operation, taking OECD-China relations to a whole new level of collaboration”.
网站 (中文) (The OECD’s Chinese-language site)
Visit of OECD Secretary-General to Beijing, March 2015