Madam Chairperson, Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to the High-level Asia-Pacific Regional Review Meeting on (the) Istanbul Programme of Action coorganized by the Government of Bangladesh, UN-OHRLLS, as well as ESCAP.
The period 2011-2020 covered by the Istanbul of Programm of Action was very dynamic for the LDCs in our region. At the outset of the decade our region was home to 15 LDCs; ten years later, 12 remain, following graduation from the LDC category by (the) Maldives in 2011, Samoa in 2014, and most recently, Vanuatu in 2020. In addition, Bhutan and the Solomon Islands are also set for graduation, in 2023 and 2024, respectively. I would like to congratulate all graduates and prospective graduates on their success!
Following the triennial review in February this year of the list of LDCs by the Committee for Development Policy, 10 of the region’s remaining 12 LDCs have also met the criteria for graduation. This means that by the end of this decade and barring any setbacks, almost all LDCs in Asia and the Pacific will have graduated and is clearly a sign of the development success of these countries.
Despite these successes, the LDCs in our region have encountered significant challenges. They continue to face vulnerabilities due to a high level of external dependence and a low level of resilience to external shocks. One of the most severe challenges that they have encountered is the COVID-19 pandemic, which has dimmed prospects for ensuring a smooth transition from LDC category and for realizing the SDGs.
As a result, and notwithstanding their development achievements, the group of LDCs in Asia and the Pacific will continue to require significant support from the international community to supplement their domestic efforts.
Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,
As this meeting is review meeting of the Asia-Pacific region, I would like to shed light on several challenges and opportunities that characterize the LDCs in the region.
First, as noted earlier, many LDCs in the region are graduating soon. Yet they will have to deal with the effects stemming from the withdrawal of duty-free and quota-free exports, and the end of access to certain concessional financing while also focusing on their socioeconomic recovery from COVID-19.
Second, Asia-Pacific LDCs are such a diverse group of countries. Eight of the 12 remaining countries are either landlocked or sea-locked, and both the world's largest LDC and the smallest LDC are in the region. Some of them are post-conflict countries, while others are going through political transformations.
In terms of opportunities, what clearly differentiates Asia-Pacific LDCs from the others is their proximity to large and more developed markets within the region. While many Asia-Pacific LDCs have benefited from subregional or regional cooperation frameworks, with the prominent example being ASEAN, the potential benefits of further intra-regional integration are still significant.
South-South cooperation between former and graduating LDCs through, for instance, knowledge-sharing and consensus building will be critical complements to the national efforts that LDCs are undertaking in their preparation for graduation.
In closing, ESCAP stands ready to strengthen and coordinate UN-wide efforts to assist LDCs in our region in better understanding the graduation process and developing and implementing a strategy for a smooth transition.
I hope this meeting will be useful for the LDCs in our region and their development partners in preparation for the LDC-V Conference. I firmly believe that our voices will form a solid basis for the ongoing development of a new programme of action for LDCs for the next decade.
Again, I would like to congratulate many LDCs in our region for successfully meeting the graduation criteria from least developed status.
Thank you very much.