Former Australian Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has been elected as the new head of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

The 50-year-old will become the first from the Asia-Pacific region to lead the Paris-based 37-nation organization, assuming the role amid one of the worst global recessions ever recorded

“It would be a privilege and an honor to lead the OECD It brings together like-minded countries from around the world who are committed to developing and implementing better policies for a better life, “Cormann said in a statement

“It provides an excellent platform for international cooperation and best practice development based on a shared commitment to democracy, human rights, the rule of law, market-based economic principles and a rules-based international order”

More than two dozen environmental groups said Mr. Cormann should not have been considered for top position in the OECD, citing earlier statements that challenged climate change

But Mr Cormann defended his climate record, saying: “To tackle climate change effectively, an ambitious, globally coordinated approach is required”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Mr Cormann had overcome “great opportunities” to secure “the highest nomination of an Australian candidate to an international body in decades”

“This is a great honor for Mathias, who has worked tirelessly for several months with executives, high-level ministers and officials from OECD member states in Europe, Asia and America,” said Morrison

“As the global economy recovers from COVID19, the role of the OECD in shaping international economic, tax and climate policies is becoming more critical than ever”

Mr. Cormann, a member of several coalition governments, resigned from parliament at the end of last year to look for the top position

He emerged as a surprising front runner, beating the Swedish Cecilia Malmstrom, a former EU trade commissioner, from

Mr Cormann said climate change was one of the group’s key challenges when he announced his candidacy last year, along with education, skills and “reducing differences in tax policies”

He helped campaign against a carbon pricing system to curb emissions in Australia’s carbon-intensive economy and was a senior member of the government that abolished the system in 2014

Mr. Cormann has focused his pitch for the role on the perspective he would bring to the OECD after “dividing my life equally between Europe and Asia-Pacific”

Mr Cormann’s campaign became controversial in Australia when it was found he was using an Air Force jet to cross Europe and assert himself with other leaders

Critics criticized the costly exercise as unjustified when tens of thousands of Australians were stranded overseas over a government coronavirus policy that restricted international arrivals

The Australian government said the move was necessary as commercial air traffic put Mr Cormann at risk of contracting COVID-19

Mr. Cormann was born in the Belgian city of Eupen and speaks German, French and Flemish as well as English

He studied law in Belgium before emigrating to Australia in the 1990s and working his way up the ranks of the Liberal Party

But he was an influential party leader and instrumental in the uprising of current Prime Minister Scott Morrison

Mr Morrison told the National Press Club in early February that he had nominated Mr Cormann in part because of “collaboration between like-minded liberal democracies has never been as important as it is today “

“As the world grapples with recovery from COVID-19, this group is playing a fundamental role in keeping markets open, “he added

The OECD is working to stimulate economic growth and world trade, and its 37 member states account for 60 percent of global economic output

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World News – AU – Former Finance Minister Mathias Cormann appointed head of the OECD