Israel ready for OECD membership [pg. 16]

Following the financial and economic reforms of the past years, the Finance Ministry has for the first time published a compliance report, which aims to show that Israel is fit by international standards to gain full membership of the OECD. However, the OECD, or Organization or Economic Cooperation and Development, has not yet made any announcement proposing membership enlargement of the organization, which now counts 30 members. "Israel is clearly ready for OECD membership. We look forward to working with all relevant parties in order to be able to join the OECD as soon as possible," said Ehud Olmert, acting prime minister, in the opening statement of the brochure, "Israel: Ready for the OECD," which was compiled by the International Department of the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Since the mid-1990s, Israel as a non-member, observer country of the OECD has made great efforts to join many of the OECD's activities and, today, is an active participant in 50 of the 200 OECD subsidiary bodies and working groups. "In recent years Israel's government has implemented a series of economic reforms that have created a smaller and more efficient public and a more competitive private sector and an economy for the challenges of the global marketplace," Olmert said. "OECD membership will help anchor these reforms and pave the way for further reforms." The brochure evaluates Israel's compliance with the OECD's high international standards according to two testing grounds - the so-called 'Positioning' criteria of the country and 'Assessment' criteria, which are general economic and legal assessment criteria. The former evaluates the 'like-mindedness' such as democratic principles and good governance and rule of law, as well as the role of Israel as a significant player in industry, venture capital and spending on research and development. The Assessment part tests mutual benefit and global standing of Israel in terms of for example growth performance, foreign direct investment and the level of trade freedom. One example of compliance with OECD standards is the fact that Israel has a higher level of venture capital as a share of GDP than any other OECD country. Another example is the high Israeli R&D spending which increased from 2.7 percent of GDP to 4.6% between 1995 and 2004, which again is higher than any other OECD country. Furthermore, the 5.2% GDP growth rate in 2005 is nearly double the 2.7% average growth rate in the 30 member states of the OECD.