Australian ex-finance minister Cormann to become new OECD head

Mathias Cormann

Australia's former finance minister Mathias Cormann was set to become the new secretary-general of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), DPA reports.

The 50-year-old received the most support in a vote of representatives of member states, British OECD Ambassador Christopher Sharrock, who had led the selection process, said in a statement on Friday evening.

The OECD council still has to give its formal approval. A date for this initially remained open.

Ten candidates were nominated last year to succeed the incumbent, Angel Gurria from Mexico.

At the beginning of March, Cormann and the former EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom from Sweden remained in the running.

The term of office of the new OECD head begins on June 1 and runs for five years.

The member states are committed to democracy and the market economy. The OECD is an important international think tank. In the global tug-of-war over taxation of large digital corporations, it plays a central role.

"I am pleased to congratulate Mathias Cormann on his appointment as the first Secretary-General of the OECD from our Indo-Pacific region," Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne tweeted on Saturday. "Australia's contribution to international cooperation has never been more important, particularly as we respond to the Covid-19 crisis."

Cormann was Australia's finance minister for the Liberal Party from 2013 to 2020 and was in office longer than any of his predecessors.

The 50-year-old has Belgian roots: he was born in Eupen near the border with Germany, went to school in Liege and studied law in Namur and Leuven.

Cormann has lived in Australia since 1996. Shortly afterwards, he became politically active and he has been an Australian citizen since 2000.

From 2003 to 2004, he was vice-chairman of the Liberal Party in the state of Western Australia. During his time as finance minister, he was also deputy government leader in the Senate from 2015.

Cormann is seen as a consistent advocate of lower taxes, smaller government, open markets and free trade. Activists had criticized him over Australia's climate policy.

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