LDC Group lobbies for commercial facilities for 12 years after graduation

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In December 2020, the LDC group made the same proposal to the WTO for a formal smooth transition process.

October 11, 2021, 10:50 p.m.

Last modification: October 12, 2021, 12:31 PM

Representation image. Archive photo: Mumit M / TBS

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Representation image. Archive photo: Mumit M / TBS

The LDC Group, including Bangladesh, requested the Least Developed Countries Sub-Committee to present its proposal to the WTO General Council for the maintenance of all support measures, including unilateral trade preferences, for 12 years, even after graduation.

He also suggested phasing out the facilities.

In December 2020, the LDC group made the same proposal to the WTO for a formal smooth transition process.

Hafizur Rahman, additional secretary of the Ministry of Commerce and director general of the WTO cell, told The Business Standard that the proposal had been sent to the LDC sub-committee in accordance with the decision taken by the LDC Group.

They asked the subcommittee to recommend that the LDC Group proposals be implemented at the WTO Ministerial Conference to be held in December, he said.

The 12th Ministerial Conference will take place from November 30 to December 3, 2021 in Geneva, Switzerland. The conference usually takes place every three years.

In the letter, the LDC Group also said that with a limited time before the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference, however, it might be difficult to reach a final consensus on such a package by December 2021.

Given the crucial importance of this topic and the need to achieve concrete results at the conference, the LDC Group proposes a provisional arrangement on a smooth transition by calling on developed and developing countries granting trade preferences unilateral to LDCs, to establish procedures to extend and gradually phase out their preferential market access regime for graduate countries over a period of 12 years, ”the letter said.

The draft decision also proposes that the subcommittee prepare a package of support measures for LDCs upon graduation and report to the General Council at its first meeting in 2023.

It makes it clear that any program of support should automatically, equally and unconditionally apply to all graduated LDCs for a uniform period after graduation, the LDC Group said.

According to information from the Ministry of Commerce, since the creation of the LDC category in 1971, only six countries have managed to graduate. In recent years, the trend towards graduation has accelerated.

Some 16 countries now officially meet the criteria for reclassification of LDCs, four of them – Angola, Bhutan, São Tomé and Príncipe and Solomon Islands – are already expected to exit the category by 2024.

Five others, including Bangladesh, Kiribati, Lao PDR, Nepal and Tuvalu, were recommended for graduation by the Development Policy Committee (CDP) and approved by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (Ecosoc ).

Myanmar and Timor-Leste have met the criteria twice or more in a row, but the CDP’s recommendation has been postponed.

Finally, Cambodia, Comoros, Djibouti, Senegal and Zambia have fulfilled the graduation criteria for the first time.

In addition to these 16 countries, 10 more have already met a reclassification criterion during the 2021 triennial review, bringing the number of countries on track for reclassification to 26, including 19 WTO members out of a total of 35 members of the LDC WTO.


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