Contenders Emerge for Secretary-General of OECD

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development is beginning to field candidacies for its premiere position:

Candidates Vie for Top OECD Post (FT)

The most senior candidate nominated so far is Marek Belka, prime minister of Poland. A former economics professor and finance minister, Mr Belka was previously the Polish representative on the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq.

Mexico has named Angel Gurria, respected multi-lingual former finance minister, who has advised several development institutions.

In an interview with the FT earlier this year, Mr Johnston, a Canadian former minister, suggested his successor come from Asia. The OECD, which grew out of the organisation that administered the Marshall Plan in post-war Europe, has historically been weighted towards Europe and North America.

South Korea has already nominated Han Seung-soo, a highly regarded former diplomat and minister, who was president of the United Nations’ General Assembly in 2001-02. Mr Han, who was economics professor at Seoul National University before entering politics in 1988, has been minister of foreign affairs, trade and finance.

But Japan, the second biggest contributor to the OECD, is expected to nominate a candidate this week. Yoriko Kawaguchi, former foreign minister, has been mentioned as a candidate.

Speculation has grown in Paris that Tokyo may later field a more heavyweight candidate, such as Heizo Takenaka, one of the chief architects of Japan’s economic reforms, who is currently entangled in restructuring the country’s post office system.

Question: If Takenaka wins the prize, will it reduce the likelihood of China’s admission into the body, given the two Asian countries’ diplomatic rift?

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Robert Garcia Tagorda
About Robert Garcia Tagorda
Robert blogged prolifically at OTB from November 2004 to August 2005, when career demands took him in a different direction. He graduated summa cum laude from Claremont McKenna College with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics and earned his Master in Public Policy from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.


  1. nadezhda says:

    I’d think the reverse might be equally likely. If Japan gets the public plum and the prestige and influence over agenda, it may feel less vulnerable to China’s influence in the body, so more relaxed about Chinese membership. That being said, certainly fights between the Chinese and Japanese over Security Council membership will spill over into lots of different venues — including OECD — regardless of what country is heading any given institution.