Statement by Ambassador Rabab Fatima, Permanent Representative of Bangladesh at the meeting of the Friends of LDCs, 12 May 2020

Thank you Ambassador/Co-Chairs for convening today’s meeting. We are grateful for the high level of participation today. We need the support of our Friend’s group now more than ever.

I fully endorse the statement made by Ambassador Perks Ligoya, Chair of our Group. Indeed, LDCs have been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic; and with long term consequences. Allow me to briefly highlight a few issues.

Mr. Chair. at the external front, all major sources of income for LDCs have been seriously impacted. Our export earnings are falling at a rapid scale. We are losing export orders for billions of dollars. Majority of our workers are in the informal sector, and are out of work with no protection. Millions of workers in expert-oriented sectors are left jobless as their companies face cancellation of orders by overseas buyers. In my country alone, that is the fate of 4 million RMG workers, to mention just one sector. And that is the case in most LDCs. This situation is linked to global supply chains, and at this critical time when we expected greater solidarity, we see instead an absence of responsible business behavior on the part of international companies. I draw the attention of the Group to this situation and the need for greater support in this regard, to avert a humanitarian and economic crisis.

Remittance is an importance source of earning for many LDCs, and has a direct impact on poverty reduction, and improving socio-economic conditions of remittance receiving households.   The pandemic has resulted in a drastic reduction of our remittance earnings. In a recent report, the World Bank has projected that the Low and Lower Middle Income Countries (LMICs) would have nearly 20% decline in their remittances.

Mr. Chair, the pandemic has hit hard migrant workers globally. Hundreds of thousands of them have been rendered jobless. Many of them are living in difficult conditions with little access to urgent health care. To make things worse, they face the prospect of being returned home jobless. Managing the return of migrant workers in such huge numbers would be a huge challenge for us. Over and above that, we face a shrinking overseas labour market caused by the global economic downturn brought about by the pandemic. The consequences will be serious; and is certain to hinder the achievement of SDG targets in the LDCs.

Mr. Chair, Excellencies, Finally, I would like to highlight the case of the graduating LDCs. The economies of recently graduated countries or those poised to graduate are primarily driven either by light manufacturing industries, remittances from workers abroad, tourism, oil and other commodity exports. All these sectors are bearing the brunt of the pandemic; with long term consequences. Under these circumstances, graduation of these countries will doubly jeopardize their development prospects, both by the COVID-19 consequences and the loss of LDC-specific support measures.

Under the current circumstances, a new support mechanism needs to be devised to help the graduating countries so that they continue to enjoy the support of their partners even after graduation. The intervention of the Friends of LDCs will make a real difference in this regard.

In conclusion, as Ambassador Ligoya mentioned, we are also in favour of holding the pre-Conference events for LDC-V in physical setting. We look forward to the situation improving in order to prepare for the Asia-Pacific Regional Review Meeting in Dhaka, which will predominately focus on graduation.

I thank you all once again for your strong support and presence today.