Chile, Estonia, Israel and Slovenia join OECD

It had been ten years since OECD added any new countries to the "developed nation" club, even though development increased at the fastest pace in history.  Think about that.  More countries leapfrogged the environmental, economic and health standards that won OECD status in the 1990s, but fewer countries were added to the OECD roll.

After a decade of hiatus, OECD got busy again and so far in 2010 has admitted 4 new countries - Chile, Estonia and Israel and Solvenia.  Credit is given to the appointment of Senor Angel Gurria as OECD Secretary-General, though he has taken his time since 2006.  Gurria was the former Mexican finance minister, and the first secretary to come out of a country which was not originally OECD.  He announced at the outset his intention to get the BRICK countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and Korea) into the OECD (South Korea is already a member).  OECD has created a list called "enhanced engagement countries" (Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, South Africa), a category which did not even exist when the Basel Convention was written.

Here is a link to the "roadmap" Slovenia followed to gain OECD status.  Bribery control, banking norms, "like mindedness", and other points on the checkslist govern entry.

There has been frustration on many fronts that the national boundaries which define OECD entities do not fit the path of organic development.   A country like Singapore which has very small boundaries has elected not to be drafted into OECD even though it has more engineers than Silicon Valley... but it is surrounded by Malaysia (a country it was once part of before the city-state went its separate way).   The other major cities of the Peninsula, Jahor Bahru, Kuala Lumpur, and Penang which remained with Malaysia are now tied to Malaysia's island of Borneo.  Kind of like having Billy Carter or Roger Clinton in your immediate family (and I make that reference with a nod to us southerners who know that Billy and Rogers exist in every family, and we love them, and we noticed that brothers and sisters don't get the same spotlight when a northerner is in office).

The OECD was originally formed to help member states develop, under the Marshall Plan after the destruction of World War II.  The slogan, "Whatever the weather we must move together" was a statement of trade, partnership, economic unity, and assistance in creating mutual standards.   It was an inclusive message.

The long and short of this post is that OECD will, sooner or later, make the Basel Action Network's objections to WR3A markets moot, since the Convention allows free trade within the OECD.   There may be some strange circumstances depending on the timing of incusion events.  For example, if OECD admits India and China into OECD before it admits Penang Malaysia (a place in the "developing world" where dodging BMW's in the parking lot is the primary danger to the workforce), the Basel Convention may steer our exports back to China, reversing the gains we made in setting up nicer factories in places with higher environmental and workplace standards.   OECD is also placing more and more emphasis on Southeast Asia. But whichever country is admitted first, or whether they are admitted in rapid succession or one fell swoop, it will put the Basel Action Network out of the "Asia" business.  BAN has increasingly focused on Africa, something I supported and recommended five years ago, and that may ironically be what saves BAN from limbo if China is admitted to OECD in the near future.

The main point is that on the date that a country becomes an OECD member, it is like the end of prohibition.   No one remembers or cares about the arguments whether it was legal to export for repair, if parts were replaced, if it was under warranty, if removed parts were properly recycled, etc... all those activities suddenly become irrelevant, and you can legally dump waste in the partner state and it's no one's business whether it was pollution or fair trade.   For fair trade to have a meaning, and for fair trade to be a condition of trade, it needs to be implemented in this narrow window when it can actually make an environmental difference.

The best hope of nations to meet their aspirations and one day become developed nations invited into the OECD is to get online.  Fair trade of reuse in electronics is a natural and necessary part of that development.  If we never trade with the developing world, it will forever be lesser developed.  If we take the fear of "e-waste" so seriously that we destroy in the USA billions of dollars in repairable and working computers, history will not show us to have been morally or environmentally superior.  History will remember those of us who were willing to get in the trenches and help our friends in the developing countries to drop their buckets where they are, and to lift as they climb.

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