Mathias Cormann takes over as OECD leader

·1-min read

Former Australian finance minister Mathias Cormann is preparing to take over as next secretary general of the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Cormann, 50, is a native of German-speaking eastern Belgium and succeeds Mexico's Angel Gurria, who led the organisation for 15 years.

As of Wednesday Australian time, he becomes the first man from the Asia-Pacific region to hold the position, which has a five-year term.

Cormann defeated former EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom from Sweden to win the new role at the OECD, a group with 38 member nations sometimes referred to as a "rich-country club".

Australia's climate policies came under scrutiny from activists during his OECD candidacy.

In a program paper, Cormann said risks such as financial crises, natural disasters and climate change should not be left out of the picture because of the focus on the coronavirus crisis.

Cormann imigrated to Australia in the mid-1990s, where he quickly rose through the federal political ranks.

He served as finance minister for the Liberal Party from 2013 to 2020 - longer than any of his predecessors.

He is seen by observers of the OECD as a consistent advocate for low taxes, open markets and free trade.

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