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Note on India and Least Development Countries (LDCs)

February 16, 2011

Ministry of External Affairs
Note on India and Least Development Countries (LDCs)

UN and the LDCs
The United Nations (UN) established the Least Developed countries (LDCs) as a separate category of Nations in 1971. The International Development Strategy for the second UN Development Decade for the 1970s incorporated special measures for the LDCs. Thereafter, the UN decided to hold a dedicated Conference once every 10 years to address the development needs of the LDCs. The First United Nations Conference on the LDCs was held in Paris in 1981; the Second in 1991 again in Paris and the Third in Brussels in 2001 hosted by the European Union. The three Programs of Action adopted so far have had limited impact on the development process of the LDCs. As a result, only three countries have graduated out of the Group since 1981: Botswana (1994), Cape Verde (2007), and Maldives (2011).

UN-OHRLLS: The United Nations Office of the High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS) was set up in 2001 as a follow-up mechanism to the Third UN Conference on the LDCs held in Brussels.

Fourth UN-LDC Conference

Turkey would be hosting the Fourth UN-LDC Conference in Istanbul during 9-13 May 2011. The LDCs and host Turkey are expecting an ambitious outcome from the Istanbul Conference; one which would allow at least 50% of the countries to reach the threshold of graduation by 2020. In the new Program of Action to be finalised in Istanbul, the LDCs are looking for stronger international support measures to meet their development needs: greater Official Development Assistance (ODA) support from the North, enhanced assistance from South¡VSouth Cooperation, increased FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) and financial flows from innovative sources and leveraging triangular cooperation.

The Least Developed Countries

The LDCs represent the most vulnerable and the poorest segment of the international community. Of the 48 LDCs, 33 are in Africa, 14 in the Asia Pacific region and one in Central America. These 48 countries account for approximately 815 million people, of which 50% live below the poverty line.

Criteria for LDC classification: The criteria for classifying a country as an LDC are based on: Per capita income; Human asset index; and Economic vulnerability index.

Special needs and vulnerabilities of LDCs: Extreme poverty, lack of productive capacity, absence of infrastructure and institutions; food and energy shortages; weak domestic market; dependence on commodity exports; high global health burden; vulnerability to external shocks and structural weaknesses have long held the LDCs in a state of under-development. They are the most off-track on the Millennium Development Goals.

Dependence of LDCs on global trade: Due to limited structural transformation, the LDCs are heavily dependent on exports of commodities and natural resources for economic growth. However, their total exports in 2009 were only about 1% of the total global trade. In 2009, out of US$ 128 billion LDC exports, US$ 68 came from fuels, US$ 30 from primary commodities, US$11 billion from foods and US$4 billion from agricultural products.

Least Development Countries (48)

Africa (33):Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Rwanda, Sao Tome Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Togo, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia

Asia/Pacific (14): Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Kiribati, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Yemen

Latin American and the Caribbean (1): Haiti

LDC Chair

Nepal is the current Chair of the LDCs.
India-LDC partnership:

India has traditionally been a strong of supporter of the LDCs. In fact, India played an active role in the setting up of the Group: the idea of creating a separate category of LDCs was discussed in detail and took shape in the 2nd UNCTAD Session held in New Delhi in 1968. India has excellent bilateral relations with each LDC and has longstanding development partnerships with them. Our development assistance to the LDCs is aimed at building productive capacities, institutional strength, infrastructure development and technical expertise to create long term sustainability in these countries.

New Delhi
February 16, 2011


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