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Graduation and then…? How do countries “graduate”?

Watering a rice paddy near Dacca, Bangladesh.
UN Photo/Wolf

Least Developed Countries (LDCs) are low-income countries confronted with severe structural impediments to sustainable development. They are highly vulnerable to economic and environmental shocks and have low levels of human assets. There are currently 47 countries classified as LDCs, an exercise undertaken by UN DESA’s Committee for Development Policy (CDP). The Committee is a subsidiary advisory body of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). It advises the Council and the United Nations General Assembly on which countries should be included to or graduated from the list of LDCs. To date, five countries have graduated from the list: Botswana, Cabo Verde, Samoa, the Maldives and Equatorial Guinea.

Graduation, or in other words the process under which a country leaves the LDC category, means that a country will no longer be eligible for certain international support measures in the areas of trade, official development assistance, climate change support, travel and other areas. UN entities and bilateral development partners mostly offer a transitional period after which these support measures are withdrawn.

One of the countries that will, for the first time, meet the criteria for graduation during the CDP’s triennial review of the LDCs in March 2018, is Bangladesh. Therefore, the country could be recommended for graduation at the following triennial review in 2021.

From 9 to 12 October 2017 several CDP Secretariat members travelled to Dhaka to discuss the country’s potential graduation from the LDC category. The Secretariat met with officials from various Ministries, the Bureau of Statistics and the Prime Minister’s Office, as well as with representatives from the private sector, and the Centre for Policy Dialogue, a research institute focusing on LDC-related issues. The objective of the meetings was to explain the graduation process, the criteria for graduation, as well as a detailed review of the data used in the analysis of Bangladesh’s LDC status.

The meetings offered an opportunity to introduce public and private sector representatives to the capacity development work undertaken by the CDP Secretariat related to LDC-specific international support measures and a new graduation platform developed by the Secretariat to assist graduating countries with better understanding the graduation process and plan for a smooth transition from the category.