Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Least Developed Countries Report 2008

Panitchpakdi, Supachai; UNCTAD 2008-08-27

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) recently published “The Least Developed Countries Report 2008” with the theme ‘Growth, Poverty and the Terms of Development Partnership’.

The Report assesses the sustainability of economic growth in least developed countries (LDCs) and examines how many such countries are participating in the growth surge. It also considers the extent to which economic growth is assisting in improving human well-being while accelerating poverty eradication and improving progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

In terms of the sustainability of LDCs’ growth, the role played by trade is essential. “The record rates of economic growth achieved by the LDCs as a group in 2005 and 2006 were underpinned by a record level of exports… and record levels of capital inflows, particularly aid”, writes UNCTD Secretary-General Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi. Panitchpakdi published an overview of the report.

The export performance by the group of LDCs has been remarkable, he says. From 2004 to 2006, the value of merchandise exports from LDCs increased by around 80 percent to reach US$99 billion. This was driven to a large extent by oil-exporting LDCs (Angola, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Sudan, Timor-Leste and Yemen), as well as by mineral exporters (the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique and Zambia), who accounted for 76 percent of the total increase in exports.

Panitchpakdi notes that there is considerable divergence between African, Asian, and island LDCs. “The Asian LDCs continued to diversify their economies away from commodities towards manufacturing, while African LDCs increased dependence on primary commodities. Island LDCs remained primarily dependent on service exports, which also exhibit high levels of volatility”, he writes.

The overview of the report, given by Dr. Panitchpakdi, can be accessed at: