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UNDESA discusses LDC graduation in the margins of the LDC conference in Benin

On 28-31 July 2014, the ministerial meeting on new partnerships for productive capacity building in the Least Developed Countries takes place. On the website of the UN High representative for LDCs, LLDC and SIDS you can find detailed information about the conference and the conference agenda. One of the side events organized during this conference is a UNDESA discussion session, where the likelihood of 24 LDCs graduating from the category by 2020 will be debated. This was one of the objectives of the IPoA.  Mr. Hiroshi Kawamura (CDP Secretariat, UN/DESA) will give a presentation and Mr. Alassane Drabo (FERDI) is discussant. More information: UNOHRLLS , UNDESA event

WTO and other international organizations promise assistance to LDCs for the implementation of the trade facilitation agreement

The WTO, ITC, OECD, UNCTAD, UNECE, World Bank and WCO have declared that they will give LDCs  Trade facilitation-related technical assistance and capacity building support. The trade Facilitation Agreement Facility, as the WTO initiative is called, will aid in the implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) that was concluded during the Bali Ministerial Conference in December. The agreement links the implementation of its provisions to the capacity of the signatory parties, and includes a commitment to assist countries that need assistance for the implementation. Once the protocol to insert the TFA into the existing regulatory framework is adopted, the Facility will...

LDC imports push Italian rice out of the market

Rice imports from LDCs into the EU are taking over Italy’s share in the market, says the Italy Farmers Union. Rice from countries such as Cambodia and Myanmar have become more competitive than Italian rice through the Everything But Arms regime. While Italian rice is sold at ±646 euros a ton, Cambodia sells its rice for ±438 euros a ton. The EBA regime provides a DFQF market access to all imports from LDCs (except for arms-related goods), including rice since the expiry of the transition period in 2009. The farmers Union has sent a report to the EU addressing this issue, and want the EU to reestablish duties on rice imports from LDCs or adopt a safeguard clause. They claim that the...

Lessons from previously acceded countries in becoming a WTO member

Analysing previous accessions to the WTO, Derk Bienen provides lessons for LDCs when applying for membership to the WTO. First he discusses the duration of the process, concluding that WTO accession does not happen overnight. The process takes, on average, 13.4 years for LDCs and actual negotiating time is 10.0 years. Key negotiation issues, market access and rules and disciplines are also examined. Procedural challenges are listed, together with possible responses to mitigate some of these challenges and existing facilitation measures to support LDCs in overcoming these challenges. In a second part, the terms of accessions are examined; focussing on commitments in trade in goods, trade...

Analyzing the Bali package from an LDC perspective

In an article assessing the meaning of the Bali-package, Christophe Bellmann analyzes the agreement from an LDC perspective. Contrary to what the name suggests, not the LDC-package but the trade facilitation agreement is probably the most important part for LDCs. Especially intra-regional trade might increase significantly due to simplified customs procedures. The implementation of the trade facilitation agreement will not be a walk in the park, but build-in flexibilities and technical assistance can help in overcoming the most difficult stumbling blocks. However, whether the agreement will entail real benefits depends on the political will of member states to fully implement the...

Upcoming Ministerial Conference on Productive Capacities in LDCs

  O n 28-31 July 2014, a Ministerial Conference on New Partnerships for the Development of Productive Capacities in LDCs takes place in Cotonou, Benin. The meeting will make policy recommendations on leveraging development partnerships , including through enhancing contribution of ODA, South-South cooperation, remittance earnings, FDI and other traditional forms of external finance. These recommendations are also expected to feed into the discussions on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the post-2015 development agenda. More info: http://unohrlls.org/ministerial-conference-2014-benin/

Nepal on the road to LDC graduation

N epal might lose its LDC status by 2022. This is in accordance with the Istanbul Program of Action (IPoA). The IPoA was developed during the fourth LDC conference in Istanbul in 2011, and includes the objective to reduce the group of LDCs by half by the end of the decade. A Nepalese newspaper assesses the pros and cons that come with losing the LDC status. On the one hand, Nepal might experience a drop in received ODA and it might lose some of the trade preferences it enjoys today. The benefits mentioned, on the other hand, are national pride and the shift away from aid dependency. The author concludes that the benefits outweigh the costs, a vision that is shared by the Nepalese...

Bali trade facilitation agreement addresses SPS barriers

Last December, during the 9 th ministerial WTO conference in Bali, an agreement was reached, referred to as the Bali package. The most significant part of this package deals with trade facilitation. Member states decided to simplify the movement of goods across borders, promote cooperation in the WTO on customs matters and help development countries implement the agreement. The importance of trade facilitation should not be underestimated; according to the OECD, the trade facilitation agreement can increase global GDP by one trillion USD. Trade costs for LICs are estimated to drop by 14.5%, for lower MICs by 15.5%. These numbers can to a certain extend be explained by the removal...

Development aid at highest level ever in 2013

Official development aid has increased in 2013 by 6.1 %, reaching its highest level ever; a positive turn after two years of decreasing aid volumes. This could however not reverse the trend of a falling share of aid going to the less developed Sub-Saharan African countries. ODA for the LDCs has risen substantially in 2013, but these numbers are influenced by an exceptional debt relief for Myanmar. The numbers for Sub-Saharan Africa, where most LDCs are located, are not promising. In 2013, bilateral aid decreased by 4 %. The DAC survey suggests that this trend will continue in the coming years. DAC members will focus their efforts on middle income countries, while LDCs and LICs will...

TÜBITAK Graduate Scholarship Programme for LDCs is accepting applications

Applications are invited for TÜBITAK graduate scholarship available for the citizens of least developed countries. The scholarship covers fields of Natural Sciences, Engineering and Technological Sciences, Medical Sciences, Agricultural Sciences, Social Sciences and Humanities. Applicants must be 30 years old or younger for the MSc/MA programs and 35 years old or younger for the PhD programs on the first day of the application period. Applicants who are currently enrolled in a PhD program in Turkey are also eligible to apply on the condition that they have not yet completed their six semester in the program. Maximum duration for the scholarship is 2 years for the Masters and 4 years for...

Launch of Angola's LDC Graduation book

A digital book on the process of graduation of Angola from the list of LDCs was released in Geneva, Switzerland. Co-authors, Adelino Muxito and Gilberto António, present a study of the impact of the removal of the special measures associated with the LDC status. They reach the conclusion that in the short term, graduation might not have an impact on Angolan exports, taking into account that in various markets, crude oil (which is the bulk of the Angolan exports) has zero or low customs tariffs under the general MFN regime. However, the authors argue that in the medium and long term, the graduation will eventually have an impact on the national policy of diversification of exports, due to...

Cambodia to certify origin of rice exported to the EU under EBA

Amidst increasing concerns by the European Union about the origin of rice exported by Cambodia, the country will set up an oversight infrastructure to improve the accountability of its exporters. Cambodian rice has preferential access to the EU market under the EBA initiative. Depending on the type of rice exported, MFN tariff lines are on average 7.7 per cent (ad valorem), while certain rice varieties incur specific duties ranging from €65 to €211 per ton, according to the WTO tariff on line database. It is argued that Cambodian rice exports would not be competitive if EBA treatment is lost. Currently, Cambodian rice is quoted between $365 to 450 per ton, with the fragrant varieties...

EIF: Enhancing LDCs' self-reliance

In an interview to Afrique en Ligne EIF's Executive Secretary, Mr. Ratnakar Adhikari, highlights the EIF's contribution to reducing LDCs' dependence on foreign aid, diversifying  countries' export base and promoting South-South cooperation through the exchange of experiences. Details of this informative interview can be found here .

Accessing the WTO LDC Group website

Information from the WTO LDC Group at the WTO can be accessed at www.ldcountries.org/. The LDC Group coordinates its engagement in negotiations under the multilateral trading system and aims to advance common positions. Through a rotational system, a coordinator is selected among LDCs to lead the Group’s engagement at all levels. The website of the Group presents useful information about activities, statements and LDC-specific proposals to the WTO. Source: LDC Group

Sweden pledges $3 million to the EIF in 2014

Sweden has pledged to donate $3 million to the EIF in 2014. To date the country has contributed $14 million to the EIF Fund. Source: Global Tax News

Samoa graduates from the LDC category

Samoa graduated from LDC status effective 1 January 2014. It now joins Botswana, Cape Verde, and Maldives the only other countries that have left the category.  In 2006, the Committee for Development Policy recommended the graduation of Samoa from the LDC  category to the Economic and Social Council. The Council endorsed the recommendation in July 2007. Subsequently, the GA adopted the resolution on the graduation of Samoa, which was scheduled to take place in December 2010. On 29 September 2009, however, Samoa was hit by a devastating tsunami, which threatened to disrupt the socio-economic progress for several years. Consequently, the GA decided to give Samoa additional...

Bangladeshi Federation assesses Bali outcome for LDCs

The Federation of Bangladeshi Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI)  indicates that Bali outcome was disappointing for LDCs. There is a weakening of the target of providing 100% DFQF on all products originating from all LDCs. Instead, the Ministerial Decision calls upon “Developed-country Members that do not yet provide duty-free and quota-free market access for at least 97% of products originating from LDCs, defined at the tariff line level, shall seek to improve their existing duty-free and quota-free coverage for such products, so as to provide increasingly greater market access to LDCs, prior to the next Ministerial Conference”. The Federation also expressed its reservations...

Yemen to join WTO in 2014

The WTO Bali Ministerial Conference approved Yemen's terms of accession to the Organization. Yemen has until 2 June 2014 to ratify the accession agreement. Thirty days after the ratification date, Yemen will become a full fledged WTO member. Source:  WTO

Bhutan 12th Round Table meeting with Development Partners

From 10-12 December 2013, a Round Table Meeting (RTM) was organized between the Government of Bhutan and its development partners. The RTMs are the highest forum for policy dialogue and aid coordination between the Government of Bhutan and its development partners. The RTMs provide an opportunity for the government and its development partners to review and discuss issues of mutual interest to further strengthen socio-economic development cooperation ties. This year's agenda included Bhutan's graduation prospects and challenges, with a presentation by UNDP . Source: Government of Bhutan .

ODA and private sector development for youth employment in LDCs

One of the pledges of the Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA) focuses on the employment of youth and their participation in the economy. Particularly, the LDCs’ development partners have committed to “provide financial and technical assistance to support least developed countries’ policies and programmes that provide economic opportunities and productive employment to youth” (para. 81 (2a)). A recent report by UNCTAD is proposing a new international support measure to create employment opportunities for youth in LDCs. The support measure would involve a catalytic use of ODA for employment creation through private sector development. In a nutshell, the objective of the support...