I thank you Ambassador Rabab Fatima.
Hon’ble Minister Eisenhower Mkaka,
Our co-hosts Ambassador Bob Rae and USG ‘Utoikamanu,
Ambassador Alya Al-Thani,
Ambassador Amrit Rai,
UNDP Administrator Steiner,
USG DESA, Mr. Zhenmin,
CDP LDC Subgroup Chair, Mr. Tesfachew,
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen
Asssalamualaikum—peace be upon you.
It is indeed an honor to be part of this discussion today. And it reminds me of my deep engagements with many of you during the adoption of the IPOA in 2011 in my role as Bangladesh PR in New York and as a Bureau Member and former Chair of LDCs.
I thank Ambassador Rabab Fatima, Ambassador Bob Ray and USG ‘Utoikamanu for bringing us together.
Today’s event is very timely. I believe that this is a part of the series of events that will feed into the 5th UN conference on LDCs. I also understand that the first preparatory committee meeting (PrepCom) of the LDC 5 conference went on very well, which I had the opportunity to participate as a keynote speaker.
As one of the co-chairs of the PrepCom, my delegation looks forward to a transformative Programme of Action for the LDCs in the coming decade. Tomorrow, we will have the PGA-PECOSOC joint event on LDCs where we will discuss about the financing. Most of the LDCs have limited fiscal buffer and absence of ex-ante insurance schemes against shocks, which make their graduation trajectory highly challenging.
The IPOA had an ambitious target to graduate half of the LDCs by 2020. Although the target remains unmet, significant progress has been achieved. Four LDCs have already graduated. And sixteen are in various phases of graduation. In the last triennial review of the CDP, my own country Bangladesh along with Lao PDR, and Nepal have been recommended for graduation.
You would agree with me that political vision holds the key to a country’s transformative development journey towards graduation. In Bangladesh, our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina led our graduation journey from the front. She envisioned transforming Bangladesh into a middle-income country by 2021 and a developed country by 2041. She made the “Digital Bangladesh” revolution a reality in the country. And inspired by her vision, LDC graduation became an aspirational agenda for the entire nation. The CDP recommendation for graduation was a momentous occasion for us. It also coincided with the 50th anniversary of our independence and the birth centenary of our Father of the Nation.
As we embark on this journey, we are working with our development partners, UN agencies, MDBs, IFIs and private sectors to ensure smooth transition and build resilience against current and future shocks. We have integrated post-graduation response measures into our socio-economic plans and policies. We have done sector-specific assessments and integrated both SDGs implementation and graduation response in our 8th FYP. As one of the most climate vulnerable countries in the world, we have been investing heavily in climate adaptation and resilience. And that includes the 82-year long delta plan 2100.
Our graduation was built on years of continuous and sustained socio-economic progress. And this has led the essential structural transformation and productive capacity. Export-led RMG, Pharmaceuticals and remittances are the major sectors of our economy. Despite the pandemic, our economy has shown resilience, notwithstanding the serious disruptions brought on by the global economic downturn.
Obviously, graduation comes with certain opportunities. It enhances the standing of a country internationally in terms of its business competitiveness, creditworthiness and as an investment destination.
However, graduation is not without its fair share of challenges. The sustainability of graduation depends on the overall strength of the economy and pace of progress. As an LDC graduates, it must forego LDC-specific special support measures and benefits. And for the countries embarking on this journey during this unprecedented crisis brings about unanticipated challenges. They would need to have sustained engagement with UN agencies and other development partners for preparing a smooth transition strategy to ensure sustainable graduation. They require flexibility from their trading partners for the LDC-specific ISMs in the post-graduation period.
In going forward, the graduating and graduated countries need new and improved support structure. There should be tailored and clearly laid down support measures to address every aspect of graduation namely, loss of ISMs, access to non-LDC specific support, smooth transition, FFD, SDGs implementation, etc.
In effect, we would need a new incentives-based support structure in tackling graduation challenges. Let me share a few specific thoughts in this regard:
First, LDCs are heavily impacted by the effects of COVID-19 in the achievement of all SDGs, which are often compounded by other shocks. It is, therefore, imperative to provide them adequate support to ensure sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and get back on track to SDGs implementation. Ensuring safe and affordable vaccines for everyone should be the top priority now. We appreciate the recent declaration of the G-7 countries to donate 1 billion doses of vaccines to low-income countries. The most effective solution of this issue, however, will be to utilize TRIPs’ waiver to transfer technology and know-hows to LDCs that have production capacities for vaccines. I urge upon our development partners and vaccines manufacturers to extend support towards that end.
Second, the lack of financing and resources for LDCs to keep pace with graduation expectation was acutely felt in the IPOA implementation. LDCs need enhanced financing support to mitigate critical deficits in physical and institutional infrastructure and capacity building. The pandemic has also revealed the importance of digital infrastructure to provide vital services to people. And there remains acute shortage of digital capacity in most of the LDCs.
It is imperative to have specific focus on delivery of the LDC-specific commitments in the next POA, especially in the areas of FDI, FFD, ODA, technology transfer, preferential trade, and reaping the maximum benefits of ICT and other frontier technologies. LDCs also need simplified access to concessional finance as well as new and innovative sources of finance.
Third, the IPoA called for a doubling of the share of LDCs’ exports in total world exports over the last decade. But there is virtually no progress in this area. The LDCs have long seen a policy paradox where rich countries provide aid to promote development but restricts trade. A bold proposal to promote export diversification in LDCs with a firm commitment to DFQF market access to OECD markets is the need of the hour. ISMs such as aid for trade, trade facilitation for LDCs have become more essential in the wake of the pandemic than ever before. We are also calling for extending LDC-specific support and flexibilities under WTO for 12 more years after graduation.
Fourth, south-south and trilateral cooperation and partnership needs to be made pronounced and strengthened.
Fifth, many LDCs are also climate vulnerable. They need scaled up support to help the transition of the LDCs towards climate-resilient growth. It is also imperative to provide them continued support to build resilience against external shocks or adversities to deal with new and emerging challenges like pandemics and global economic downturns.
Sixth, migrant workers from the LDCs are among the most directly affected by the socio-economic fallout of this pandemic. We expect the next POA to incentivize job creation, skills development, scaled up social protection, and lowering cost of remittance transfer.
Finally, there must be more focus on enhanced monitoring and support mechanism in the post-graduation phase. DCO and UN country team should have enhanced coordination in this regard. It is also imperative to ensure that there are adequate and timely support measures to withstand emergencies and shocks to avoid any slide back.
The graduation of an LDC is not a success for the country itself, but for the entire international community. As we approach the LDC5 Conference in Doha, we have an opportunity to renew our commitment to make LDCs graduation more sustainable and irreversible. We must push for an incentives-based graduation pathway for LDCs, that would include time-bound support measures in post-graduation phase.
Graduation must be rewarded; it cannot be a cause of punishment.
We wish to remain engaged with the international development community for conclusive discussions to create appropriate incentives and support measures designed for graduating and graduated LDCs.
I shall stop here.
I thank you once again.
Joy Bangla, Joy Bangabandhu.