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India visa fee waiver for applicants from LDCs

The Government of India has waived the fees for business and employment visas for applicants from all 48 LDCs. Starting December 14, 2015, all Indian diplomatic offices in LDCs will issue free business and employment visas to applicants. http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2016-01-25/news/70065343_1_business-and-employment-visas-countries-central-african-republic

CDP Secretariat organises workshop in Brussels on capacity development experiences

On 6 April 2016, the CDP Secretariat is organising a workshop on its capacity development experiences in LDCs. The workshop is part of the DCF Belgium High-level Symposium on “Rethinking development cooperation for the SDGs: country-level perspectives and lessons“, to be held in Brussels from 6-8 April 2016. In line with the Symposium themes, an overview of the rationale for capacity building activities in LDCs will be provided. The presentation will highlight approaches, results achieved and impediments encountered. It will also summarize the main lessons learned in project implementation, in particular in enhancing collaboration between and among development partners and pilot...

ODA to LDCs dropped by 9.3 per cent in 2014

In 2014, LDCs received $43.7 million ODA, 9.3 per cent less than the year before. The drop can partly be explained by the lower levels of debt relieve, but when excluding debt relieve figures, ODA to LDCs still fell by 4.6 per cent. For the first time since 2005, less than 30 per cent of ODA went to LDCs. In general, however, ODA levels have been rising over the past 15 years. In 2014, an increase of 1.2 per cent was noted. The additional ODA did not flow to the LDCs, instead, more money was spent in particular on addressing humanitarian crises, fragile states and offering help to refugees arriving in ODA/DAC countries and transit countries. These numbers are in stark contrast...

Liberia and Afghanistan to join the WTO

The accession packages for Liberia’s and Afghanistan’s membership to the WTO have been officially agreed upon by the WTO member ministers at the 10 th WTO ministerial meeting held in Nairobi, from 15 to 19 December. Liberia is the 35 th LDC to join the WTO, after eight years of negotiating. Liberia submitted its application in 2007 and the negotiations were de facto completed at the 4 th meeting of the Working Party on 6 October 2015. The accession package has to be ratified by Liberia before 16 June 2015. Taking into account that, on average, the accession process takes 13.4 years for LDCs, the Liberian accession process was relatively short. The negoti ations with...

LDC transition period extended for Vanuatu

The UN General Assembly has extended Vanuatu’s preparatory period before LDC graduation by three years, until 4 December 2020. The country joined the LDC category in 1985, and has achieved significant progress in income and human assets. At the 2012 triennial review, per capita income was $2,540, exceeding the graduation threshold of $1,190, and the human asset index reached 77.7, much higher than the graduation threshold of 66. Based on these findings, the Committee for Development Policy (CDP) recommended that the country graduates from the LDC category, a recommendation which was endorsed by the Economic and Social Council. In December 2013 the UN General Assembly took note of the...

Briefing on capacity building project for addressing institutional constraints in accessing ISMs and the ePing toolkit

The CDP Secretariat briefed delegates on the results of its capacity building project on removing institutional constraints in utilizing trade-related international support measures for Least Developed Countries. The briefing included a presentation of the new electronic export notification toolkit developed under the project, to alert LDCs on new product-related requirements from trading partners. A presentation of the briefing can be accessed here .

ESCAP publication on implementation of Bali package by LDCs

In a new publication, ESCAP discusses the implementation of the Bali package, and provides background information and analyses to prepare LDC negotiators for the upcoming 10 th WTO ministerial conference in Nairobi. Focusing on (Asia-Pacific) LDC concerns, the publication analyses key decisions of the Bali package and identifies challenges and opportunities. Impact assessment strategies and guidelines to capitalize on the implementation of the package are put forward. The publication also analyses the capacity and policy gaps at the national and regional level. The publication examines amongst others preferential Rules of Origin for LDCs, DFQF market access, the services waiver,...

New publication on LDC category: 2015 Country Snapshots

On November 19, UN-DESA and the Committee for Development Policy launched a new web publication at the UN Headquarters in New York City. Entitled The Least Developed Country Category: 2015 Country Snapshots the publication compiles key statistical data used by the CDP at the 2015 triennial review of the LDC category. To identify LDCs the CDP uses three criteria: gross national income (GNI) per capita; human assets index (HAI) and economic vulnerability index (EVI).  HAI and EVI are indices composed of four and eight indicators, respectively. These twelve indicators together with the indices for per capita GNI, HAI and EVI are summarized in one-page profiles for each...

ICTSD analyses what LDCs stand to gain (or lose) at the 10th WTO Ministerial meeting

The latest issue of bridges Africa , the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development’s newsletter, is dedicated to LDCs’ concerns and interests at stake for the 10 th WTO ministerial meeting that will be held in Nairobi in December this year. The issue discusses amongst others Special and Different Treatment, a DFQF deal, rules of origin, cotton, food security , fisheries, the Trade Facilitation Agreement, Non-Agricultural Market Access and services. Sources: “LDC stakes for Nairobi: Going all in?”, Bridges, ICTSD, Vol 4 (9), 11 November 2015

WTO drugs patent waiver for LDCs extended until 2033

On 6 November 2015, the WTO Council decided to extend the exemption for LDC WTO members to implement provisions of the TRIPS agreement related to pharmaceutical products. The exemption will last for at least 17 years, until 2033, when the waiver will be discussed again. LDCs requested a permanent waiver exempting them from the obligation to implement the provisions until a country would graduate from the LDC category. This turned out to be “a bridge too far”. The waiver, agreed upon in 2001 and about to expire at the end of the year, exempts LDCs from obligations under the TRIPS agreement related to patents or other intellectual property rights on pharmaceutical products and clinical...

CDP/ DESA holds workshop on trade and LDCs

From 3-6 November the Committee for Development Policy (CDP) Secretariat of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs held a four-day workshop in Geneva to help LDCs benefit more from international support measures (ISMs) and to prepare for possible graduation from the category. Senior policymakers attended from Bhutan, The Gambia, Lesotho, Nepal, Timor Leste, Uganda and Vanuatu. Professor Charles Gore, former Director of Africa and the LDCs at UNCTAD, led the first two days of the workshop. Professor Gore first outlined how to strategically orient the economy to develop productive capacity for trade. In line with his earlier work, Professor Gore defined productive...

Handbook on the LDC category, second edition has been published

The second edition of the Handbook on the Least Developed Country Category: Inclusion, Graduation and Special Support Measures  has been released by the Committee for Development Policy.  The LDC Handbook  provides comprehensive information on the least developed country (LDC) category, including a description of procedures and methodologies used in the identification of these countries, and the support measures associated with it. It builds upon and updates the previous edition published in 2008. As did its predecessor, this revised edition of the Handbook aims at promoting a better understanding of the LDC category—the only country category officially recognized by the...

Workshop on productive capacity and international support measures for LDCs

From 3-6 November the Committee for Development Policy at the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) is holding a four-day workshop in Geneva to help LDCs benefit more from international support measures (ISMs) and to prepare for possible graduation from the category. The workshop comprises two parts. During the first two days, international experts will explore the issue of how to develop productive capacity for trade, using the latest policy developments as well as case-studies developed by CDP. LDC policymakers from eight countries will be trained in how best to take advantage of existing ISMs and to build productive capacity for trade with a view to sustainably...

20 years of WTO support to LDCs

As part of the WTO's 20th anniversary activities, the WTO organizes an event on Monday 12 October to take stock on how the WTO has helped LDCs integrate into the multilateral trading system. The meeting will review the key developments and decisions taken in favour of LDCs, the institutional support provided and the trade capacity-building initiatives put in place. The event will also look ahead to how the WTO and the larger international community can help LDCs overcome the remaining challenges in their integration into the multilateral trading system, including possible measures that could be considered for LDCs at the Tenth WTO Ministerial Conference, in Nairobi, in December this...

Togo ratifies WTO's Trade Facilitation Agreement

Following Niger and Loa People's Democratic Republic, Niger became the third LDC to ratify the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). Concluded at the WTO Bali Ministerial in December 2013, the TFA will enter into force after being ratified by two thirds of WTO membership. To date, 21 members, including Togo, have ratified the agreement. Source and additional information: WTO website

ePing presented at WTO SPS workshop

UN DESA is participating in a WTO SPS workshop, presenting a new information system developed to give easy access to WTO SPS and TBT notification alerts. The so-called “ePing” system is developed under a UN DESA capacity development project and aims to inform the public and private sector in LDCs about changes in SPS and TBT regulations of (potential) trading partners. WTO Members are required to notify the WTO whenever they change their SPS or TBT regulatory framework. These notifications contain a summary of the new or updated regulation, the products covered and other related information. Changes in SPS and TBT regulations can have a profound impact on import opportunities....

UNDESA is developing an SPS and TBT alert system for LDCs

UNDESA is developing an online alert system to improve communication and information sharing between public and private sector stakeholders in LDCs  on changes in  TBT  and  SPS  regulations. Named "ePing", the alert system is one main outcome of the UNDESA project “Building institutional capacity in the use of trade-related International Support Measures ( ISMs ) in  LDCs ”. The cost-benefit analysis conducted during the most recent UNDESA to Nepal highlighted SPS and TBT issues as the areas with the highest benefit:cost ratio, and therefore an area in which ePing can help. Field studies not only in Nepal but in the Gambia and Uganda pointed out that...

A technology bank for LDCs by 2017?

Two important global development frameworks, agreed upon in July, mention the establishment of a Technology Bank for LDCs: the outcome document of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development . The fact that the bank is mentioned in both documents and will be discussed during the UN General Assembly in September might create momentum to make significant strides in the process of establishing the bank. The first document refers to the forthcoming recommendations of the Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on the Technology Bank for Least Developed Countries, which should be taken into account when establishing the...

Australia supports LDC participation in the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference

The participation of LDCs in the 10 th WTO Ministerial Conference will be facilitated by Australian development aid. The country donated 100,000 AUD (about US$ 70,350) to support LDCs. The Ministerial Conference will take place in Nairobi, in December 2015. The Doha Development Round discussions will dominate the agenda. It is thus imperative that LDCs are represented and able to voice their concerns and demands. Australia has donated over 23 million AUD (about US$ 16 million) to WTO trust funds since 2002. Source: WTO website

Eleven WTO members met target to notify preferential measures for LDC services by July 31

Canada, Australia, Norway, Korea, China, Hong Kong SAR, Taiwan Province of China, Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland and Japan met the target to notify preferential measures for LDC services and service suppliers before July 31, 2015. The EU and Chile will follow as soon as their domestic ratification processes are concluded. At the 8 th WTO Ministerial Conference in Geneva in December 2011, a waiver was adopted, allowing developing and developed countries to grant LDC services and service suppliers preferential treatment. Two years later, at the Bali WTO ministerial Conference, member states decided to enhance efforts to operationalize the waiver which lasts for 15 years, and LDCs...