Paris, Jun 1 (EFE).- Former Australian finance minister Mathias Cormann on Tuesday took over as secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development as Mexican Ángel Gurría stands down after 15 years in office.
Cormann’s maiden speech at the OECD handover ceremony was easily placed in the context of the economic rivalry between the West and China, however veiled and indirect his choice of words.
“Our core purpose and our convention is to preserve individual liberty, and to increase the economic and social wellbeing of our people,” the Belgian-born politician said, switching from French to English.
“We share a commitment to democracy, to human rights, the rule of law, market-based economic principles, a global-level playing field, a rules-based international order as the best way to maximize sustainable growth, prosperity and general wellbeing.”
Cormann’s time as Australia’s finance minister between 2013-20 spanned three prime ministers, all the while the economic rivalry with China sat high on his agenda.
But another legacy from his time in government was a poor record on climate change compared to other developed nations, for which he faced criticism during his OECD candidacy.
Gurría hammered the point home as he bade farewell to the OECD’s top office.
“I know that beating the virus is our most urgent, our most immediate challenge… but our single most important intergenerational responsibility is the protection of our planet,” he said.
Cormann was elected by the 38 OECD member states for a mandate of five years.
President Joe Biden’s commitment to reclaiming a leading role within the OECD after Donald Trump’s relative disinterest is encapsulated by the appointment of his former assistant James Rubin as diplomatic advisor to the new secretary-general. EFE