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The Least Developed Countries Report 1998

image of The Least Developed Countries Report 1998

The main focus of the 1998 Least Developed Countries Report, is an analysis of how different aspects of the multilateral trading system affect opportunities and constraints, for least developed countries (LDCs) to enhance their participation in the world economy. The Report examines the evolving interface between trade issues and the development objectives of LDCs. It analyses, in particular, several aspects of the multilateral trading system which traditionally have not been the main focus of concern to LDCs, but which are rapidly becoming important as these countries attempt to diversify their economies and enhance their involvement in the global economy. The Report also focuses on two other issues: implementation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements by LDCs and how implementation by the developed countries is likely to affect LDCs; and how the process of accession could be expedited for the LDCs which are not members of WTO, while ensuring that they enjoy the same rights and concessions as current LDC members.

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Introduction

The paradox of the continuing marginalization of LDCs in a rapidly integrating world economy poses a unique challenge to policy makers, at both the national and international level. As LDCs’ growth rates lag behind those of other developing countries and their share of world exports and imports continues to fall, the special and differential treatment measures incorporated into various Uruguay Round agreements and two of the Ministerial Decisions adopted by the Trade Negotiations Committee (the “Decision on Measures in Favour of Least-Developed Countries” and the “Decision on Measures Concerning the Possible Negative Effects of the Reform Programme on Least-Developed and Net Food-Importing Developing Countries”) have acquired greater significance. Several factors have, however, militated against LDCs in their attempts to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the multilateral trading system, including their limited capacity to participate effectively in WTO.

English

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