OECD admits Estonia along with Slovakia and Israel

  • 2010-05-19
  • By Joseph Hammond

TALLINN - While Estonians, Slovenes, and Israelis failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup, they may feel heartened to have qualified this year for admission to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), one of the world’s most prestigious economic clubs.

For Estonia, admission to the club is further recognition that international economic agencies have taken notice of Estonia’s advances and that it is on the right track to meet its development goals.
Estonia’s admission follows a meeting in March this year between Secretary General of the OECD Jose Angel Gurria of Mexico, and Foreign Minister Urmas Paet, in Paris.
The two had also met in 2008, when Gurria made an official visit to Estonia and held meetings with President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Prime Minister Andrus Ansip and others in the Estonian government in which he pressed for labor sector reform.

Estonia, long considered a ‘Baltic Tiger,’ has recently faced a contracting economy due to the global financial crisis. Still, Estonia is the strongest of the Baltic economies, according to Estonia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Estonia’s government sector debt is the lowest in the European Union. Estonia also has roughly 25 billion kroons (1.6 billion euros) in government sector reserves - or 11.7 percent of GDP.
It has been a couple of weeks of positive economic news for Estonia, which was informed that it has fufilled the Maastricht Criteria for admission to the eurozone in January 2011. A formal vote on Estonia’s admission to the eurozone will be conducted by EU finance ministers in July.

In recent months some Estonians have been critical of the center-right government’s quest to join the eurozone, citing increasing unemployment numbers. There are also concerns that admission to the EU would cause inflation. Estonia has tried to pre-empt this problem by following a policy of pegging the Estonian kroon to the euro for several years.
The OECD announcement comes just months after Chile was invited to join the club in January of this year. Chile, the ‘Latin Tiger,’ became the first South American country into the Union and the second Latin American state after Mexico. Israel will be the second Middle Eastern state into the organization after the admission of Turkey.

The admission of Chile, Estonia, Slovenia, and Israel this year marks the first expansion of the OECD since the admission of Slovakia, the ‘Tatra Tiger,’ in 2000.