WTO report looks into steps taken to boost LDCs’ participation in international trade

A new WTO publication launched on 19 January highlights that further support will be needed from the international community in the next decade to strengthen least-developed countries’ (LDC) participation in world trade. While LDCs have benefited over the past ten years from greater market access opportunities, flexibilities in implementing WTO rules and trade-related technical assistance, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to even greater challenges for these countries, hitting their exports hard.


“Boosting trade opportunities for least-developed countries” reviews the progress made over the past decade to help LDCs further integrate into the global trading system. The volatility of commodity prices over the past ten years and the onset of the COVID-19 crisis caused LDCs’ share of global exports to shrink to 0.91 per cent in 2020, compared with 0.95 per cent in 2011. The global goal of the United Nations aimed at doubling the LDC export share by 2020 is yet to be met.

“Increasing LDC participation in global trade is a shared objective of the international community. The WTO offers LDCs a unique opportunity to help shape global trade rules that respond to their trade interests. This report has illustrated the tangible benefits that LDCs working closely with WTO members have achieved over the past ten years. It is important to build on what we have achieved so far and make sure that trade continues to boost economic growth in LDCs and worldwide in the next decade and beyond,” said Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

The report notes that LDCs’ participation in global trade can be strengthened by enhancing preferential market access for LDC exports of goods and services. It also highlights the importance of longer timeframes for LDCs to implement WTO rules, including for trade-related aspects of intellectual property. Support from development partners will also be crucial to sustain the development efforts of economies graduating from LDC status.

“The least developed countries continue to face considerable challenges in integrating into global trading systems. The United Nations will continue to support these efforts through building ambitious partnerships in the context of the Doha Programme of Action, which will be adopted at the Fifth UN Conference on LDCs (LDC5)”, said Ms. Heidi Schroderus-Fox, Acting United Nations High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States.

This report is the WTO’s contribution to the LDC5 Conference originally scheduled for 23-27 January 2022 but postponed due to recent COVID-19 developments. One of the main objectives of the rescheduled LDC5 Conference is to adopt a Programme of Action for LDCs for the decade 2022-2031.

Read the full report here.

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