Although the OECD’s main area of work consists of economic analysis and the promotion of international trade, several other areas of work have also been added to the organization. With the exception of culture, sports and defense, the OECD deals with as many subject areas as all ministries of national governments.
Criticism has been leveled at the organization for the area of activity being too broad. The OECD has been accused of suffering from an identity crisis. Priorities among the activities are considered necessary by several member states.
Economy and economic policy
Ongoing studies, reports and statistics prepared by the OECD on economic development at international and national level are considered by many to be important in order to be able to explain and predict economic trends and changes.
During the 1990’s, the focus of the OECD’s economic reporting shifted somewhat from the national to the international perspective as the economy globalized.
The analysis work provides a valuable basis for the governments of the member states before political decisions. Within the OECD, economic issues are dealt with by the Economic Policy Committee (EPC), which has subgroups for economic forecasts in the OECD area and structural issues (how the economy is affected by support, tax reform, liberalization, migration, unemployment, aging population, etc.).
In the WP3 working group, state secretaries and representatives of central banks meet in what is called the G10 circle (despite its eleven countries). The G10 consists of the G7 countries (USA, Japan, Canada, Italy, France, Germany and the United Kingdom) as well as Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands. In addition to the EPC’s overarching issues, financial and monetary stability in WP3 is discussed.
The Economic Development Review Committee (EDRC) conducts an annual review of each Member State’s economy. Most member states, including Sweden, attach great importance to these reviews. When, for example, Sweden’s economy is examined, the OECD’s leading economists write a report containing both an assessment of the economic situation and proposals for measures. This is based on the experience of other countries. When the report is discussed in the EDRC committee, the Swedish government representatives are given the opportunity to explain and defend the policies pursued by Sweden. The final report, which is published under the name Economic Survey, is an important element in the economic policy debate and is used by many as a starting point for their own analyzes.
Twice a year, in June and December, the OECD publishes its publication Economic Outlook. It consists of an assessment of the past year’s economic trends and a forecast for the coming year’s economic growth and development. Articles on economic policy are published in the OECD Economic Studies and OECD Papers.
According to neovideogames, OECD countries work together for an open and strong international trading system on a multilateral, non-discriminatory basis. In the Organization’s Trade Committee, Member States are given the opportunity to discuss common issues before entering into negotiations in the World Trade Organization WTO. The discussion is based on the secretariat’s analysis.
The OECD often studies the relationship between trade and other areas such as the environment, labor law rules (for example on trade union freedom and child labor), competition or investment. In the early 2000’s, several studies were conducted on the liberalization of the services sector, including the link between national regulations and free trade in services. An attention-grabbing theme was also the globalization of trade and what drives it. Trade reforms in agriculture were another relevant area. In the early 2000’s, negotiations were also under way within the OECD to reduce overcapacity in the steel industry by introducing stricter rules, not least for government subsidies. The organization also worked for a reconstruction of the crisis-stricken shipbuilding industry.
The OECD is also an international forum for negotiating a common line of action for export credits, and the organization issues guidelines for export credit guarantees. The Directorate of Trade’s task is to contribute to the monitoring of the market for export credits. The purpose is, among other things, to ensure that state aid does not impede free competition. In recent years, the OECD has paid particular attention to export credits and the environment.
The OECD countries together account for 95 percent of the Official Development Assistance (ODA) in the world and development work is a key area for the organization. However, the OECD is not an aid organization and does not lend money. The work in the area of development assistance aims instead to improve the quality and increase the volume of member states’ development cooperation. The Development Assistance Committee (DAC) has developed a system of rules that specifies which resource transfers may be classified as development assistance and which countries may be classified as development assistance recipients. An extensive system has also been developed with recommendations on what constitutes good assistance. Each Member State is reviewed every three years to ensure that the assistance complies with the Committee’s regulations and recommendations.
The individual member countries of the Development Assistance Committee report annually to the OECD on the scope and content of the development assistance. On the basis of this reporting, the Development Cooperation Report is published once a year with statistics and analysis of trends in international development cooperation.
Not only the Secretariat’s Directorate for Development Cooperation but also the separate research-oriented OECD’s development center deals with development issues. The center was created in 1962 and its task is to study the interplay between the economies of developed and developing countries with the aim of promoting mutual economic development. The center will also disseminate OECD policy.