International economic fight brewing

Joel Gehrke of the Washington Examiner reports on a potential fight over leadership of a major international group.

A former Mexican diplomat is expected to seek an unprecedented fourth term as head of the top international body monitoring economic policies and trends, setting up a potential fight with the Trump administration.

At stake is who will lead the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which takes one fifth of its funding from the United States. The incumbent is Angel Gurria, who is serving his third five year term – a circumstance that grates at critics.

“It’s not a monarchy,” Daniel Yohannes, the former top U.S. diplomat to the OECD, told the Washington Examiner. “I think he’s power-hungry and he wants to stay in the limelight.”

That’s a sharp rebuke of OECD secretary-general Gurria from a former American colleague. Yohannes, the last Senate-confirmed ambassador to the OECD, aired the complaint amid rumblings that Gurría is gearing up for another campaign. A continuation would leave the intergovernmental body under the same leadership for 20 years, presenting Gurria with a rare chance to put a personal stamp on an organization founded in 1960. …

… The OECD, a 36-member group, is regarded as a premier place to collect economic data and study the results of economic policies in an international venue that is free from domestic political considerations. This dialogue is expected to take place among the member-states, but Gurría, a former Mexican finance minister, has clashed with member delegations over his apparent desire to dictate certain policy outcomes.

“There have been some cases in the past where we had to tell him to back off,” Yohannes recalled. “This is an old habit of Gurría wanting to inject himself on different issues.”

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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