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Wednesday, 12 February, 2003, 19:03 GMT
OECD: What is it and what does it do?
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has been called a think tank, a monitoring agency, a rich man's club and an unacademic university. BBC News Online looks at what it really is and does.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is an international economic research and discussion organisation, based in Paris.

It describes itself as an "organisation helping governments tackle the economic, social and governance challenges of a globalised economy".

It has 30 member countries and active relationships with 70 other countries.

Most of the them are the developed industrial economies of Europe, North America and Japan. But in the last few years, it has expanded to include some of the former communist states of central Europe, as well as two developing countries, Mexico and South Korea.

The organisation says all its members are committed to the principles of the market economy and pluralistic democracy.

'Talking shop'

It says its purpose is to boost prosperity by providing a web of compatible policies and practices across countries that are part of an ever more globalised world.

Among its list of recent achievements, it has adopted rules to punish companies and individuals involved in bribery in order to advance in bribery.

From time to time, there are also agreements negotiated through the Organisation.

And it publishes research on economic issues, producing regular economic reports on each of the member countries.

But it is in essence a 'talking shop' - a forum for member countries to discuss economic policy issues as well as environmental agricultural and energy concerns.

The OECD has evolved from the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation which was established after the second world war to co-ordinate aid under the Marshall plan intended to help European economic reconstruction.

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