Key policy responses from the OECD

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08/01/2021
This policy brief reports on the activity of online platforms during the COVID-19 crisis. Google Trends data for OECD and other G20 countries indicate that in some areas (such as retail sales, restaurant delivery, and mobile payments) online-platform use increased markedly during the first half of 2020, when most countries imposed lockdown and physical distancing measures. Thus, in this period, some economic transactions may have shifted to online marketplaces as people and businesses increasingly turned to online platforms to pursue economic and social activities. The rise in platform use was however highly heterogeneous across areas of activity and countries. Countries with higher levels of economic and technological development, easier access to infrastructure and connectivity, better digital skills, and wider Internet use tended to experience a larger increase in the use of online marketplaces, possibly mitigating the negative effects on output and jobs of the COVID-19 shock. This highlights the role of policies in strengthening countries’ digital preparedness and their resilience to future shocks.
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21/12/2020
In the context of the COVID 19 pandemic, effective communication on migration and integration has helped governments achieve crucial policy objectives: First, in order to limit the spread of the virus, governments need to provide all parts of the population, including migrants, with timely and accurate information on the pandemic, public health measures taken, as well as access to medical services. Second, in order to ensure the continuation of migration and integration processes, governments need to effectively communicate on policy changes affecting migrants’ rights and obligations. Third, communication campaigns addressing the general public can be useful to counter prejudice against migrants in relation to the spread of the virus. This Policy Brief reviews current challenges and good practices of communication on migration and integration in response to the pandemic, drawing from examples of communication campaigns implemented in OECD Member countries in 2020.
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18/12/2020
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, a number of tax administrations have already published domestic guidance on some of the transfer pricing implications of COVID-19. While this is an important first step in setting taxpayer expectations, facilitating co-operative compliance and delivering greater tax certainty, the two-sided nature of transfer pricing means that it is only by agreeing a common approach that tax administrations can enhance tax certainty. This Guidance clarifies and illustrates the practical application of the arm’s length principle as articulated in the OECD Transfer Pricing Guidelines to the unique fact patterns and specific challenges implied by the COVID-19 pandemic. Four priority issues were identified and are covered in the Guidance: (i) comparability analysis; (ii) losses and the allocation of COVID-19 specific costs; (iii) government assistance programmes; and (iv) advance pricing agreements (“APAs”). This Guidance was developed and approved by the 137 members of the OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework on BEPS. While it is recognised that some Inclusive Framework members may also follow the United Nations Practical Manual on Transfer Pricing for Developing Countries (2017), this Guidance should be helpful in such circumstances where the UN Manual follows a similar analytical framework and allows for similar conclusions as the OECD Transfer Pricing Guidelines.
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14/12/2020
The outlook for the tourism sector remains highly uncertain. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to hit hard, with international tourism expected to decrease by around 80% in 2020. Domestic tourism is helping to soften the blow, at least partially, and governments have taken impressive immediate action to restore and re-activate the sector, while protecting jobs and businesses. Many countries are also now developing measures to build a more resilient tourism economy post COVID-19. These include preparing plans to support the sustainable recovery of tourism, promoting the digital transition and move to a greener tourism system, and rethinking tourism for the future. Rebuilding tourism for the future.
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11/12/2020
When world leaders gathered in Paris in 2015, they succeeded in agreeing a comprehensive, ambitious and universal global agreement on climate change. But temperatures are hitting record levels and many developing countries have been hit by devastating cyclones this year. We are sleepwalking into a catastrophe if we let climate change rise unchecked.
08/12/2020
This policy note is an updated version of the note published end April 2020. It updates indicators and the main socio-economic consequences of the COVID-19 crisis in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) and presents the main policy priorities to be achieved, taking into consideration the most recent evolution of the crisis. In 2020 LAC will be the most affected emerging and developing region in the world in terms of GDP growth and this crisis is hitting particularly the most vulnerable groups. Policy reactions have been bold, but further measures are needed.
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08/12/2020
The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to affect agricultural markets over the next decade. OECD analysis highlights how slower economic growth could affect food security, farm livelihoods, greenhouse gas emissions, and trade. The size of these impacts depends, among other things, on the severity of the drop in global GDP. Based on two scenarios for economic growth recovery, this brief describes how the economic shock from the pandemic could reverberate through the agriculture sector over the next decade.The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to affect agricultural markets over the next decade. OECD analysis highlights how slower economic growth could affect food security, farm livelihoods, greenhouse gas emissions, and trade. The size of these impacts depends, among other things, on the severity of the drop in global GDP. Based on two scenarios for economic growth recovery, this brief describes how the economic shock from the pandemic could reverberate through the agriculture sector over the next decade.
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04/12/2020
Even with promising recent news on vaccine development, testing, tracking, tracing and isolating (TTTI) quickly and on a large scale continue to be essential to public health policy responses to the COVID‑19 pandemic. This note provides an update to an earlier OECD brief on such strategies in the light of recent developments in testing technologies. Molecular tests, and in particular RT-PCR, remain the reference for identifying infections because these tests are very reliable. But capacity constraints and the relatively high cost of RT-PCR limit its use on a massive scale. More recently-developed rapid antigen tests offer the advantage of producing results much more quickly. They are also cheaper, simple to use, and can be performed at point-of-care, thus allowing their use on a very large scale. However, they are less reliable than molecular tests. To achieve their objectives, testing strategies can combine different technologies and use them in complementary ways, taking into account their respective strengths and limitations.
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01/12/2020
This briefing paper focuses on innovation in development and humanitarian efforts in the context of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Following an exploration of the overall role of innovation in the COVID-19 response, it examines innovation efforts underway in international development and humanitarian responses to the pandemic, how well these efforts are working, and how they might need to be enhanced to address pressing health, social and economic challenges, as well as to secure societies’ long-term resilience.
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30/11/2020
Empirical work described in this policy brief explains the daily evolution of the reproduction rate, R, and mobility for a large sample of countries, in terms of containment and public health policies. This is with a view to providing insight into the appropriate policy stance as countries prepare for a potentially protracted period characterised by new infection waves. While a comprehensive package of containment measures may be necessary when the virus is widespread and can have a large effect on reducing R, they also have effect on mobility and, by extension, economic activity. A wide-ranging package of public health policies – with an emphasis on comprehensive testing, tracing and isolation, but also including mask-wearing and policies directed at vulnerable groups, especially those in care homes – offer the best approach to avoiding a full lockdown while containing the spread of the virus. Such policies may, however, need to be complemented by selective containment measures (such as restricting large public events and international travel or localised lockdowns) both to contain local outbreaks and because implementing some of the recommended public health policies may be difficult to achieve or have unacceptable social costs.
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27/11/2020
This policy brief investigates the likelihood of corporate insolvency and the potential implications of debt overhang of non-financial corporations associated with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Based on simple accounting exercises, it evaluates the extent to which firms may deplete their equity buffers and increase their leverage ratios in the course of the crisis. Next, relying on regression analysis and looking at the historical relationship between firms’ leverage and investment, it examines the potential impact of higher debt levels on investment during the recovery. Against this background, the policy brief outlines a number of policy options to flatten the curve of crisis-related insolvencies, which could potentially affect otherwise viable firms, and to lessen the risk of debt-overhang, which could slow down the speed of recovery.
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26/11/2020
During COVID-19 lockdowns it became visible that migrants are often important in sectors that are crucial for the functioning of everyday life. Informed by this experience, this note provides an assessment of the role of foreign-born workers in essential services (referred to as migrant key workers) at regional level for 31 European countries. It examines the share of migrant key workers in regional labour markets, their importance in jobs with different skill requirements, and differences between EU and non-EU migrants. Migrants play a crucial role in health care, where 23% of doctors and 14% of nurses are foreign-born. In cities such as London or Brussels, around half of all doctors and nurses are migrants. Overall, capital regions have the highest share of migrant key workers (20%). Similarly, cities rely more on migrant key workers than other areas, especially in low-skilled occupations where migrants make up 25% of workers.
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24/11/2020
This note focuses on the multi-faceted structural challenges in the Western Balkans, which have exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and it assesses the economic impact of COVID-19 on the region, with special focus on SMEs, tourism, education, employment, digitalisation, trade, and investment. As governments combat the economic and societal consequences of the crisis, the note offers policy considerations towards the objective of building back better a better future, with more inclusive, sustainable and resilient economies.
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23/11/2020
The world is facing an unprecedented multidimensional crisis that demands coherent policy responses. The COVID-19 crisis has further highlighted the vulnerability of several of our basic systems, including healthcare, social protection, education, value chains, production networks, financial markets, mass transit systems and ecosystems. This makes the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) even more relevant today as they aim to transform the systemic conditions that perpetuate the vulnerabilities of our societies and economies. Yet, the human, social and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic may reverse the progress made in achieving the SDGs. As such, sustainable recovery, aligned with the SDGs, requires cross-sectoral actions and mechanisms to manage unavoidable trade-offs between short and long-term priorities, and between economic, social and environmental policy goals. This brief presents a policy coherence roadmap to support governments in ensuring a sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 crisis that does not come at the expense of progress towards the SDGs.
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19/11/2020
A holistic approach to education – that addresses students’ learning, social and emotional needs – is crucial, especially in times of crisis. School closures related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic mean that students from diverse backgrounds who are more at risk of increased vulnerability are less likely to receive the support and extra services they need, and the gap between students that experience additional barriers and that do not might widen. Closures can also have considerable effects on students’ sense of belonging to schools and their feelings of self-worth – these are key for inclusion in education.This Policy Brief describes OECD Member Countries’ initiatives to address the different needs of vulnerable students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Beyond school closures, it also examines the issue of school re-openings by presenting countries’ current measures and providing policy pointers aimed to ensure that the pandemic does not further hinder the inclusion of vulnerable students in education systems.
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19/11/2020
Finance ministries have been at the forefront of the response to the COVID-19 crisis, alongside other actors such as health ministries. They delivered substantial successive fiscal packages under considerable time and operational pressure, as speed was key to the success and effectiveness of government action on the economic, social and sanitary fronts. This brief provides an overview of how OECD countries’ financial management and reporting systems have coped and adapted to the demands and pressures brought about by the crisis in four main areas: 1) Funding COVID-19 spending; 2) Allocating resources to emergency policies; 3) Delivering emergency spending; 4) Enabling transparency and accountability. Finally, it draws a set of preliminary lessons to be considered by finance ministries.
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18/11/2020
This note updates Trade facilitation and the COVID-19 pandemic from April 2020 with insights into the evolution of new border protocols and trade facilitation measures impacting traders since COVID-19 and exploring what more can be done to prepare for the next stages of the pandemic as uncertainty persists. It highlights the importance of transparency and availability of timely trade-related information in mapping bottlenecks and risks, as well as the importance of trade facilitation measures in supporting business recovery and resilience across different goods sectors. Finally, it provides some preliminary insights for trade facilitation with respect to the distribution of vaccines.
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16/11/2020
The global COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant negative impact on the economies of Central Asia. This updated policy note reports on the latest developments in the region and looks ahead to identify the key challenges likely to be faced by the region’s policy makers in the short-to medium-term. It examines five major economic challenges facing countries as they recover from the COVID-19 crisis –debt sustainability, migration, job retention, private sector fragility, and lack of connectivity –and proposes ways forward.
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16/11/2020
This policy paper was developed by the OECD Regulatory Policy Division with inputs from behavioural practitioners and policy makers in the International COVID-19 Behavioural Insights and Policy Group. It discusses from a regulatory governance perspective why behavioural insights (BI) should be considered as part of a holistic response to the COVID-19 pandemic, what governance challenges involved in deploying BI against the pandemic, and how some countries have responded to these challenges. Reflecting on these challenges and opportunities allows governments to promote resiliency by preparing the BI field for future crises.
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11/11/2020
Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) governments reacted swiftly and pre-emptively to protect their citizens and contain the spread of COVID-19 in the region and its impact on the economy. However, the region struggled to contain the levels of contamination, notably due to the prevalence of the informal economy and the limitations of health infrastructure and social protection systems. On the economic front, the region was already in a weak situation at the time the pandemic hit, and now has less fiscal space than in 2008 to mitigate the deeper recession that will result from the 2020 outbreak. Focusing on the 15 countries that are a part of the Steering Group of the OECD LAC Regional Programme (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay), this note provides an update on the previous note published in May 2020. It highlights the government measures enacted to mitigate the crisis and considers long-term policy considerations towards the objective of building back a better future, with more inclusive, sustainable and resilient economies.
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