UN-OHRLLS FIRST ANNUAL FLAGSHIP REPORT ON THE STATE OF THE LEAST DEVELOPED COUNTRIES - 2013

New York, 27 September 2013 – Strengthening the ability of poor countries to produce more goods and services more efficiently will boost economic growth thereby accelerating sustainable development, according to a new United Nations report released today in New York.

The study, ‘ProductiveCapacityBuilding in the Least Developed Countries and the Post 2015 Development Agenda’ calls for strengthened cooperation between the world’s forty-nine least developed countries (LDCs) and their development partners.

The 115 page report, undertaken by the United Nations Office for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) and SmallIslandDevelopingStates (UN-OHRLLS), stresses that while national development rests with the LDCs themselves, support from the international community remains crucial if inroads are to be made in the fight against endemic poverty in these countries.

A number of innovative steps are to be taken at the national and global level to jumpstart these economies, the report says.

The study suggests that at the national level, macroeconomic policies should go beyond the pursuit of price stability and purposefully target economic growth, job creation, and sustainable development. It adds that sectoral and cross-sectoral policies need to be fully aligned to a development-supportive macroeconomic framework.

“Taken together this new policy approach should be viewed as the means to which living standards can be meaningfully and sustainably improved. It is expected that these policies should contribute to increasing the dynamism of the private sector so as to transform it into a true engine of sustainable growth and development,” Under-Secretary General and High Representative for LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS, Gyan Chandra Acharya, said at the launch of the report.

Speaking to journalists, Benin’s Foreign Minister, Nassirou Bako Arifari, “It is important to link this policy approach to the post-2015 process. We strongly believe that productive capacity building should be at the heart of the new generation development policy framework of the UN. From this standpoint, this report has served a very timely purpose.”

The report recommends that at the international level, development partners – including emerging developing countries – and the international community as a whole, should step up their assistance to the LDCs in a number of areas, which include improving the quantity and quality of aid, including the alignment of assistance with  productive capacity building priorities in each recipient country.

Greater attention should be paid to the implementation of duty and quota-free treatment for LDCs’ exports, improvement of rules of origin, the operationalisation of services waiver and actions on cotton, the report argues.

Development partners are also encouraged to support poor countries in acquiring modern technology tailored to productive capacity building, including the operationalization of  UN Secretary-General’s proposed Technology Bank which would allow a stronger data and statistical capacity in the LDCs.  The report also makes clear that there is a need to make further improvements in aid coordination and a more transparent global financial system;

 Background

The Least Developed Countries is a category established in 1971 by the UN General Assembly. This group of countries are regarded as the poorest and most vulnerable in the world.  Currently, the group consists of 49 countries, 33 of which are in Africa, 14 in Asia and 1 in Latin America.  The Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA) adopted in Turkey in May 2011 is 10-year action plan to scale up support and development of these countries.

The report finds that progress has been mixed on many of the goals and targets agreed to in Istanbul. A number of LDCs, albeit fewer than during the last decade, have recorded strong and rising investment rates, rapid urbanization, and robust expansion of sectors other than agriculture. This development may point to structural changes taking hold in these countries.

Yet, most LDCs continued to face pervasive poverty, serious structural impediments to growth, low levels of social and human development and high exposure to shocks and disasters. Even those countries with improved performance started off from low bases and have a long way to go to catch up with the levels of development of other developing countries.

The headwinds of the global economic slowdown is reaching the LDCs in the forms of reduced official development assistance flows and increased fluctuations in commodity prices, therefore putting at risk hard-won gains achieved so far, and the ability to expand these gains to all LDCs. At the current trends, most LDCs will not meet most of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015

The report urges the international community to give priority to the LDCs a collective effort to accelerate the achievement of the MDGs and formulate the post-2015 UN Development Agenda.

For more information: Mr. Ricardo Z. Dunn, UN-OHRLLS Advocacy and Outreach Officer, +1 917 367 6006/dunn@un.org