Additional policy and financial support should be provided to the least developed countries during their development status graduation, as the advancement takes away the benefits they used to enjoy as an LDC, Planning Minister MA Mannan said yesterday.
With the economic graduation, Bangladesh may also lose access to duty- and quota-free schemes and specific preferential rules of origin the country now enjoys, he said.
“Major impacts are also expected under the trade related aspect of intellectual property rights agreement, the agreement on agriculture and the agreement on subsidies and countervailing measures,” he added.
Mannan spoke while addressing a penal discussion on sustainable development goals (SDGs) at the 75th annual conference of United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in Bangkok, Thailand.
He said Asia-Pacific Countries with Special Needs Development Report 2019 of the UN ESCAP has rightly pointed out that the international community’s role would be to provide more support to countries that were poised to graduate in the years to come.
So, there is no other option other than building a partnership to design or develop incentive packages aiming at furthering the development of the LDCs, he stated.
“We seriously need to prepare a concrete proposal with comprehensive incentive package without any delay to support pre and post-graduation phases under an institutional mechanism at regional and global level,” suggested Mannan.
“Among them, the preferential market access based on lower tariffs and the duty- and quota-free arrangement should be continued for sometimes after graduation to support the government and especially the private sector.”
Mannan said Bangladesh would lose access to or priority in training and capacity building opportunities at various international institutions.
He said although Bangladesh has been able to achieve considerable structural transformation in recent decades, not too many LDCs have been that fortunate.
As a result, the coming years are likely to see a large number of LDCs fulfilling graduation criteria even without substantial progress in socioeconomic performances and structural changes, he said.
“Many of the LDCs are also likely to struggle with growing income inequality and socioeconomic disparity,” said the minister.
According to him, Bangladesh has met the criteria for graduation from least developed country status alongside achieving tremendous socio-economic growth in the last decade.
Bangladesh’s significant success in achieving millennium development goals and strong policy alignment towards the 2030 Agenda has augmented the process of graduation from the LDC status, he said.
However, he said, Bangladesh was quite aware that the result of graduation from LDCs was likely to lead it to encounter the withdrawal of international support measures which were exclusive to LDCs in the coming years.
Mannan apprehended that achieving the SDGs with additional funds seems to be a far cry for the time being.
On the back of it, the LDCs are hardest hit among all the countries when it comes to the adverse impact of climate change without any contribution to the global greenhouse gas emission, the minister pointed out.
On the impact of climate change, the planning minister said Bangladesh was losing around 2 percent of its GDP every year due to climate change and natural disaster as were the other LDCs.
On the sidelines of the conference, Mannan also held a bilateral meeting with Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, executive secretary of the UN Escap.