Jose Angel Gurria – General Secretary of the OECD

Jose Angel Gurria is a Mexican economist who graduated from the Autonomous National University of Mexico (UNAM) and did his post graduate work with the Institutes of Leens (UK), Harvard University and the University of Southern California (USA). He was born in Tampico, Tamaulipas, Mexico on May 8th, 1950.

He has been recognized as one of the main economic advisors and active political members of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). He was one of the key members of the Ernesto Zedillo Government. First he performed with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and then as Minister of the Treasury.

At this time, Gurria is the General Secretary of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Jose Angel Gurria has been affiliated with the PRI since 1968.

In this capacity he has participated in diverse forums and seminars sponsored by the Spanish Institute for Prospective Superior Education (IEPES). This is where he has served at the same time as a member of the Commission of International Affairs as well as in areas of Ideology and Modernization.

With over 35 years of public service, his expertise in financial and diplomatic fields has driven him to occupy important positions with the Mexican government. He has been General Director of the Ministry of the Treasury. He is former General Director of the National Financial Association (NAFINSA). And, he was also with the National Bank of Foreign Trade (BANCOMEXT) in an executive capacity.

During the administration of Ernesto Zedillo, he was the first Ministry of Foreign Affairs and then moved on to become the Head of the Ministry of the Treasury. This is where he showed his most impressive results. He can claim being the first Ministry of the Treasure in charge of Mexican finances when there was a change of Government that went without an economic crisis in 30 years (since 1970). At the end of his management tenure the Mexican economy was stable and even showed an outstanding 6.7% annual growth rate in his last year in office. These conditions continued stable during the presidential transition.

Jose Angel Gurria has also been a member of the External Advisory Board for the Interamerican Development Bank (BID).

In addition he is a permanent member of the Mexican Council for Social and Economic Development.

In November of 2005, Gurria was named the 5th person to head the OECD since its creation in 1961. He has been the first General Secretary of this Organization who comes from a developing Country. He was selected from over five other persons who were all recommended for the position.

Recently the OECD renewed the mandated term for Jose Angel Gurria as General Secretary of the Organization. This was renewed for a second five year period. It will begin at the conclusion of his initial period starting the first of June, 2011.

This decision was been made by the OECD Council, which is composed of 33 member countries that all agree with the recognition given the vision of Jose Angel Gurria in regard to transformation of the OCDE into a more relevant, open and inclusive Organization. The Ambassador of Portugal at the OCDE, Eduardo Ferro Rodriguez, for instance, affirmed as representative of the Ambassadors that the unanimity of the Council reflected the high recognition that member countries feel for the energetic leadership of Mr. Gurria. It also reflects trust in his capacity to lead the Organization forward during the next five years. This is seen as a period of time which at the moment looks like it will be highly challenging for Gurria, as well as the OECD.

Agustin García Lopez is the Mexican Ambassador at the OECD. He concluded that Mexico should be very proud that a Mexican person is the head of the Organization that will soon be celebrating its 50th Anniversary.

In the context of the economic crisis and changes in the global economy, Secretary Gurria has noted: “The OECD has to redouble its efforts. My fundamental objective continues to be seeking relevance for the Organization, meaning that it keeps its orientation to improvements in the quality of life for our citizens and to support the design and implementation of better policies for a better common life”.

This decision has been framed within the context of preparation for the 50th Anniversary of the OECD as defined by Secretary Gurria. It is a key moment. It is time to harvest the benefits of the goals reached and to strengthen our determination as a permanent fundamental of this institution. During his acceptance speech, Angel Gurria explained that the OECD has been playing an important role in the restoration of citizens” trust after the serious governing failures and it should continue to strengthen the entrepreneurial ethic generated during the recent crisis. “The perception on the part of the people about the future isn”t really too clear and their tolerance at hearing the bad news is rapidly reaching its limit. We need to change the environment and this negative psychology and this is the role of the OECD,” he said.

Gurria is aware that the challenges ahead are complicated.

“The return of the growth,” he maintains, “is not enough and in this context unemployment is high and there are also high fiscal deficits and there are even climate change problems. The promotion of growth also implicates the definition and the measure as to the overall general welfare”.

The organization, according to Mr. Gurria, will keep supporting the countries in the creation and implementation of new policies in order to face up to the global challenges like: the rebuilding of trust; the proper restoration of public finances; identification of new sources for growth; a dramatic increase in employment and improvement in the capacity of the population to solve present and future problems in an environmentally friendly and self-sustaining manner.