At UN meeting, poor Asia-Pacific countries call for free access for their exports

15 March 2006 – The 14 least developed countries (LDCs) in the Asia-Pacific region today called on their trading partners to provide duty- and quota-free access to all their exports, as they wrapped up a two-day meeting organized by the United Nations to review their progress in meeting their development goals for the decade.

Full implementation of the Programme of Action for 2001-2010 by both the LDCs and their development partners is critical if these countries are to attain their internationally agreed development goals, UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) Executive Secretary Kim Hak-Su told the session.

“In these countries, implementation of macroeconomic policies may be less than effective, owing to human resources and institutional constraints,” he said. “External sector performance may be erratic, given their reliance on a narrow range of commodities and trading partners. Provision of government services may be limited or costly.”

The meeting was co-organized by the ESCAP and the Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (OHRLLS), with support from the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

Over 60 representatives from the 14 LDCs attended, reviewing progress towards attainment of the goals of the Programme of Action adopted at the Third UN Conference on Least Developed Countries in Brussels in May 2001, which among things called on the international community set aside 0.20 per cent of gross national product (GNP) as official development assistance (ODA) to the LDCs.

The High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, Anwarul K. Chowdhury, noted that during the last half decade, benefits of South-South cooperation rose for LDCs.

Some developing countries have become important markets, emerging as significant investors in or suppliers of technology, producers of medicinal drugs and providers of technical assistance as well as financial aid and debt relief of LDCs, he said.

The 14 LDCs are: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Kiribati, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

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