Saturday, May 7, 2011

Reducing the Number of Least Developed Countries

Aiming to reduce their own number in half by 2020, the 48 least developed countries (LDCs) are looking for a major advance at negotiations ahead of the Fourth UN Conference on the LDCs (9-13 May, Istanbul, Turkey). The world’s most vulnerable economies and other governments are pressing for measures that would bump 24 countries off the UN’s “least developed” category — which denotes low per capita income, low standards of living and human resources, and lack of economic capacity and resilience. LDCs depend largely on agriculture, which occupies most of their people in backbreaking, low-productivity work; or on mining and petroleum, which are non labour intensive and produce little spin-off into other areas of domestic economies.

Six LDCs – Angola, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Mozambique, Sudan and Tanzania — are on the list of the 11 countries McKinsey says are most likely to benefit, especially if sustainable agricultural practices to ward off the effects of climate change are introduced.

A study published in April 2011 by the McKinsey consulting firm contends that this moment may be arriving in Africa, where more than three-quarters of the LDCs are located. The report states:
A long-awaited ‘green revolution’ may be within reach. Many of the continent’s governments are adopting market-friendly policies and committing more resources to the sector. Traditional big donor countries are increasing their expenditures on agriculture, while China and Brazil are also beginning to contribute to the effort. African agriculture’s private-sector investment is rising rapidly. High, volatile food prices underline the importance of such development efforts and create not only pressure but also political space for policy makers to act.


The large majority of farmers in the LDCs are women — most of whom are involved in low-productivity agriculture. A transformation of smallholder farming and diversification of rural as well as urban economies would allow the creative, economic and governance abilities of women to more fully emerge. Essential for this is bringing down structural barriers — discriminatory laws, policies, practices and norms —to gender equality.

With low domestic savings rates (averaging 10 per cent of gross domestic product), the least developed countries remain dependent on sources of external financing such as official development assistance

LDCs are rich in the hard (mineral) and soft (agricultural) commodities that are at a premium in today’s global economy. Possession of these resources has not enabled most of them to escape poverty traps in the past. Countries need to find ways that will bring the proceeds into play in terms of economic diversification. If returns are more widely spread among populations,
growing domestic markets will attract international investment into non-commodity sectors.

the Least Developed Countries
Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Togo, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia

ASIA [14]
Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Kiribati, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Nepal, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Yemen


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