By Karl Schembri
The Maltese government is seeking full membership to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) together with other new European Union members, The Malta Financial and Business Times has learnt.
A spokesman from the Foreign Ministry said the government is “actively considering” membership to the OECD and an assessment of possible membership has just been concluded.
“By joining the OECD, Malta would actively participate in the OECD Council and in the numerous specialised committees,” the spokesman said. “Malta would be involved in a forum which shapes international policy in a wide array of areas of an economic and social nature.”
Malta is one of the six new EU Member States which are not members of the OECD. The others are Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovenia.
The EU is said to be supporting Malta’s bid for membership, together with those of Cyprus and Slovenia, while the US is advocating Israel’s acceptance.
Membership would entail a minimum contribution of 0.1 per cent of the total OECD budget, which until 2003, translated into meant EUR313,000.
The biggest contributors at present are the US and Japan and obligatory contributions are mainly based on member countries’ gross domestic products.
The Foreign Ministry spokesman said membership would also entail additional expenditure for the Paris-based diplomatic staff and travel and accommodation costs of delegations participating in OECD meetings.
Malta had reached an agreement back in 2000 which removed it from the OECD’s list of tax havens in return for establishing a Money Laundering Compliance Office. In March 2002 the government set up the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit to enhance Malta's reputation as a financial services centre. In 2002 the MFSA was admitted as a full member of the International Organisation of Securities Commissions.
20 countries originally signed the Convention on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development on 14 December 1960. Since then a further ten countries have become members of the Organisation.
Calls for the OECD to admit new members in the wake of EU enlargement last year gave a boost to candidate countries as the organisation considers their membership bids.
“In celebrating EU enlargement at this time, we also stand on the threshold of a new era in the evolution of the OECD,” said Ireland’s Ambassador to the OECD, John Rowan, last year. “There is no lack of opportunities and challenges for us all.
“Assisting member countries to learn from shared experience is at the heart of the OECD’s activities. The peer pressure, the quality and extent of the analyses and reviews, have all contributed to improvements in economic performance and the strengthening of social cohesion.”
Referring to his own country, which is often mentioned as an example of how to achieve economic and social progress, Rowan admitted that while the Irish workforce’s skills and adaptability contributed hugely, however “membership of the EU and the OECD was critical to our success.”
“Through the OECD, Ireland, like all member countries large and small, has been able to identify areas where reform would make a real difference to performance, in labour markets, entrepreneurship, governance, public/private partnerships, and so on,” Rowan said. “The part played by the OECD in the evolution of the Irish education system, for instance, was an indispensable element of our growth.”
Israel has made great efforts in recent years to join the OECD. Until now, its applications have been rejected even though it has met the membership criteria, surpassing members in certain categories.