WTO (Negotiations, Regular Work, Leadership)

Preparing for UN LDC IV: Trade and Development Challenges for LDCs

Agency for International Trade Information and Cooperation (AITIC) and CUTS Geneva Resource Centre (CUTS GRC) organized this dialogue on 18 May, 2010 in Geneva, Switzerland which was addressed by several LDC Geneva ambassadors.

Ambassadors from Least Developed countries demanded a new development paradigm in preparations towards the Fourth United Nations Conference for the Least Developed Countries to be held in Turkey in 2011, an event held once in ten years. Ambassadors Dinesh Bhattarai of Nepal, Darlington Mwape of Zambia and Anthony Mothae Maruping of Losotho, and former Ambassador Debapriya Bhattacharya of Bangladesh were speaking at a dialogue organized jointly by CUTS and AITIC on 18 May 2010 in Geneva, Switzerland.

Recognising and addressing the structural challenges faced by the LDCs, focusing on creating productive capacities and providing an early harvest on demands by the LDCs in the ongoing Doha round of trade negotiations were some of the steps suggested in the dialogue attended by intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations and think tanks apart from delegations from developed and developing countries. A roadmap on how to get the process for preparations for the UN LDC IV conference right was also outlined.

“There have been plenty of commitments but weak delivery to LDCs in the last ten years” remarked Dinesh Bhattarai, adding that distributive justice and special focus on countries emerging out of conflict was called for. “Trade matters in responding to what LDCs are faced with” said Darlington Mwape, and called for the trade negotiators to agree on an early harvest on duty free market access in goods with competitive access to cotton markets, and more favourable modalities on services trade, without waiting for the rest of the round to be concluded. Commending India for having provided duty free access to LDCs in 94 percent of tariff lines, he urged that this should be complemented by business-to-business partnerships for creating productive capacities in the LDCs.

“Brussels Programme of Action, the result of the last UN LDC Conference in 2001, was a dream document but timing and sequencing of the implementation of its recommendations were not right”, said Anthony Mothae Maruping before outlining details of the process that needed to be followed this time around so as to benefit from these lessons. He identified the Enhanced Integrated Framework for LDCs as a good example of a functional partnership between them and their development partners and implementing agencies.

The dialogue was initiated by Debapriya Bhattacharya giving a preview of a study to be considered in the UNCTAD Trade and Development Board meeting in June 2010 in quest of structural progress in LDCs. The interesting debate that followed encompassed views ranging from patting both LDCs and their development partners on their backs for the good progress made in the last few years to identifying critical failures of the existing development paradigm and calling for a programme of action that is concrete, well-financed, implementable and achievable.