Aid to poor countries should focus on building good economies - UN report

José Antonio Ocampo addresses meeting

29 June 2004 – Improving the effectiveness of aid to poor countries requires a focus on economic infrastructure, according to a new United Nations report discussed today by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in New York.

The report, presented to ministers and other senior officials attending the high-level segment of ECOSOC recommends targeted investment and productive development strategies to unleash domestic potential for attracting currency and sustaining economic growth. The study also suggests that least developed countries (LDCs) minimize their disadvantages - such as the small size of their economies - through regional integration.

Introducing the report, Jose Antonio Ocampo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said that it was entirely appropriate that ECOSOC address the special problems of LDCs as the international community prepares to review the progress towards the antipoverty Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) adopted at a UN summit in 2000.

Mr. Ocampo noted that debt, commodities, official development assistance and, in some cases, the risk of conflict is hampering development in LDCs.

For his part, the UN High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, Anwarul K. Chowdhury, said LDCs were caught in a "poverty trap," where slow growth and low income cut domestic savings, in turn limiting increases in investment and economic growth.

Mr. Chowdhury called on the international community to fulfil its commitments to poor countries, not only through increased and better quality development assistance, but also through greater investment and debt relief as well as free and fair trade.

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