Representing Canada at the Council of Europe (Part Two)
October 30, 2021

Week of October 30 – November 03, 2021

Last week I shared the first part of my experience representing Canada at the Council of Europe in Berlin, Germany and Strasbourg, France. This week’s journal is a continuation of my trip and will highlight more of the important political and economic issues that were discussed in the meetings I attended, specifically the world economy and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

While in Strasbourg, France, the Parliamentary Assembly discussed the 2006 report on the OECD and the world economy, presented by the Assembly’s Committee on Economic Affairs and Development. The discussion of the report focused on future challenges that the world economy will encounter in the coming years. The first challenge highlighted in the report and addressed by the Assembly was energy. According to the OECD’s report, the oil and gas market will remain volatile, coupled with increasing demand. The Chinese demand for oil has been underestimated in recent years and with the developing world economies experiencing growth, demand is expected to increase, which will have an effect on all economies, including Canada.

Another challenge for the world economy will be trade liberalization. Trade liberalization has had a significant impact on the world’s economic growth since the establishment of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). There is some concern that the multilateral trade negotiations launched in 2001 (known as the Doha Development Agenda), which have stalled, could be a major setback for the world economy and threaten the progress of developing countries.

The OECD report also stated that agriculture and farming-related issues will remain as challenges to the world economy. Some developing countries have expressed concern about the effects of multilateral tariff reduction upon their own governmental revenues. They fear that revenue shortfalls could serve to undermine their overall economic stability and therefore, affect the progress of development programmes and lead to a reversal of trade reform.

The challenge of improving the effectiveness of international aid was another challenge presented to the Assembly. According to the OECD, the widening gap between the world’s richest and poorest countries is growing and with it, there is a need for international aid and development programmes to be more substantial and more effective. The OECD has found that the involvement of numerous agencies with different systems of management and measurement can lead to duplication, inefficiency, and confusion, making it difficult to guard against corruption. This challenge will require the attention of both donors (including Canada) and planners.
Finally, transparency and corruption will also prove to be challenges for the world economy. There is an undeniable link between the defeat of poverty and good governance. The OECD is continuing its efforts to exchange donor support for good governance and therefore, supporting capacity development. The Council of Europe and the OECD have co-operated on efforts to tackle money laundering and economic crime, which demonstrates the need for the international community, a country’s government, its institutions, the private sector, and civil society to overcome these challenges.

I was pleased to participate in the Assembly’s discussions of the OECD’s report on the future challenges to the world economy and to be present to provide a unique Canadian perspective on them.