Courtesy of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development       May 5, 2016

OECD countries agreed today to invite Latvia to become a member of the Organisation – a move that would extend OECD’s membership to 35 countries.

OECD Secretary-General, Angel Gurría said: “We are very pleased to welcome Latvia as a member of the OECD. This development reaffirms our Organisation’s commitment to bring together countries who want to be part of this ‘house of best practices’, which aims to provide answers and solutions to the world’s leading economic and social challenges.”

“I am sure that Latvia will make a great contribution to enrich the work of the OECD as a source of effective and innovative public policies, and that its OECD membership will also support Latvia’s efforts to continue improving the lives of its citizens.”

Marten Kokk, Dean of the Organisation’s governing Council said: “OECD Member States welcome the successful conclusion of the negotiations with Latvia and its accession to the OECD.

“Latvia has implemented wide-ranging structural reforms to establish a modern market economy after it restored its independence in 1991 and joining the OECD is an important acknowledgement of those efforts after joining the EU in 2004 and Euro area at the beginning of 2014.

“For the OECD, the accession of Latvia is also a significant development as the country proved to be a successful reformer and will be able to share its own important expertise with current and future Members.”

In statements made at a meeting of the Organisation’s governing Council, OECD countries expressed the wish that membership in the Organisation will bring Latvia closer to OECD standards in all fields.

During nearly three years of accession discussions, Latvia has been reviewed by 21 OECD Committees on two fronts: an evaluation of Latvia’s willingness and ability to implement substantive OECD legal instruments, as well as an evaluation of Latvia’s policies and practices as compared to OECD best policies and practices.

“With Estonia already an OECD member since 2010, Latvia now invited to join and Lithuania in the process of accession, the OECD will be much better connected to the Baltic region,” said Mr. Gurría. “The economic and financial crisis has underlined the need for our countries to work together to find appropriate policy responses to restore growth and confidence.”

For countries seeking to join the OECD such as Latvia, the accession process itself can serve as a catalyst for important reforms and support domestic policy agendas. For example, as part of its accession process, Latvia has committed to the re-establishment of boards of directors in all large commercial state-owned enterprises and has  improved its anti-money laundering regulations.

Many of Latvia’s priorities are already in line with the OECD’s agenda – for example reducing inequalities, maximising trade and investment, fostering innovation, fighting corruption and optimising the effectiveness of education, health and labour market policies. OECD membership will allow Latvia to further tap into the vast reservoir of OECD expertise, advice and policy dialogue in order to support policy-makers and reformers. OECD members will also have a greater access to Latvia’s experience in different fields and will be able to learn from it.

Latvia was invited to open accession talks in 2013, along with Colombia. Membership talks with Colombia are continuing, and in April 2015 the Council decided to open accession discussions with Costa Rica and Lithuania. In parallel, the OECD is strengthening its growing partnership with major emerging economies, including Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and South Africa. Specific country programmes are ongoing with Kazakhstan, Morocco and Peru.

An Accession Agreement between Latvia and the Organisation will be signed at a special ceremony on 2 June, during the annual meeting of the OECD Council at ministerial level in Paris. Latvia will become a member of the Organisation once it has taken the appropriate steps at the national level to accede to the OECD Convention and deposited its instrument of accession with the French government, depository of the OECD Convention.