Workshop on SDGs and Sustainable Graduation of South Asian LDCs

14 Oct 2019 to 15 Oct 2019
Kathmandu, Nepal
By invitation only

Three of the fourth South Asian Least Developed Countries (LDCs) – Bhutan, Bangladesh and Nepal - are in various stages of graduating from LDC status. As per the existing schedule, Bhutan is scheduled to graduate in 2023. Bangladesh has fulfilled the criteria to graduate for the first time in 2018 and could graduate as early as 2024. Nepal’s case of graduation has been deferred to 2021 by the Committee for Development Policy (CDP). As LDCs, these countries receive special and differential treatment (S&DT) which is supportive of achieving structural transformation and diversification of markets and products, benefit from Aid-for-Trade and other initiatives. They get S&DT in the multilateral context as well as in their regional or bilateral preferential trade agreements. Upon graduation, these privileges and benefits will be withdrawn, and countries will be required to put supporting policies in place to minimize the risk of being marginalised.

Despite impressive progress made in terms of economic growth and development, South Asian LDCs continue to face multiple challenges of low productivity, small economic base, highly concentrated export structure, lack of employment opportunities for emerging youth and several other vulnerabilities, including those stemming from climate change. As highlighted in the Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA) for LDCs, of particular relevance to LDCs is strengthening productive capacities and addressing rural development, as most of the population in these economies depends upon the rural sectors for livelihood. Indeed, productivity needs to improve, particularly in agriculture, to eradicate poverty and hunger.

As a part of its mandate, UNESCAP provides customized capacity-building and policy advisories to support Asia-Pacific countries with special needs (CSN) in meeting their development goals. This Workshop is prepared as part of a series of activities led by UNESCAP, with a long-term multi-disciplinary approach and with collective support from different divisions of UNESCAP, to assist South Asian LDCs in meeting the specific challenges relating to LDC graduation and the achievement of SDGs.

This Workshop is organised to assist Nepal in its roadmap for a smooth LDC graduation, also identifying, by using an integrated approach, possible ways forward for meeting the goals relating to IPoA and SDGs. The discussions will give due importance to specific challenges faced by Nepal as a landlocked country. The workshop will also provide opportunity to exchange views on common challenges relating to LDC graduation being faced by Bhutan and Bangladesh. The objectives of the Workshop are:

(i) To identify priorities and developmental challenges by reviewing progress in Nepal towards smooth transition to graduation.
(ii) To review impact on existing flexibilities and other special and differential treatments for LDC in the WTO and RTAs.
(iii) To identify future capacity building needs for effective and smooth transition to graduate from LDC.