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Delivered by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

05 March 2023


Excellency Ms. Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh,

Excellency Mr. Saleumxay Kommasith, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lao PDR,

Excellency Mr. Narayan Kaji Shrestha, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Physical Infrastructure and Transport of Nepal,

Distinguished participants,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to give the opening remarks at this important event on “Sustainable and Smooth transition for the graduating cohort of 2021.” We are all in Doha today because we recognize the challenges faced by the Least Developed Countries. But also because we have hope that those challenges can be overcome. And in so doing, it is possible for countries to progress from being the least developed toward the achievement of prosperous futures that we are all committed to.

Last year, we collectively subscribed to the Doha Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2022-2031. DPoA represents a new generation of renewed and strengthened commitments between the least developed countries and their development partners, including the private sector, civil society, and governments at all levels. The key focus areas of the DPoA include investing in people, leveraging the power of STI, supporting structural transformation, enhancing international trade, addressing climate change and mobilizing international solidarity.

In the context of the Asia Pacific region, there is good news for the LDCs. 10 of the reigon’s 11 LDCs have met the graduation thresholds. Several of these are scheduled to graduate by 2026. Bangladesh, Laos PDR and Nepal are among this group. Owing to the negative impacts of internal conflicts, there may only be 1 or 2 LDCs left by the end of 2030 in the Asia Pacific Region.

Despite the optimism, the pandemic, coupled with rising fuel and food prices, among other shocks, serve as a reminder that these countries have far fewer options and resources to counter external disruptions. Many of these countries continue to face structural challenges due to being landlocked such as Lao PDR and Nepal.

Nevertheless, some LDCs have been successful in leveraging preferential access to markets and in the process, they have been able to generate formal employment and export revenues. Of the 3 countries organizing this side event, Bangladesh and Laos PDR are among this group that have managed to harness the benefits of trade to strengthen their development.

However, Sustaining the growth momentum beyond graduation requires continuous structural transformation and further strengthening of productive capacities.

ESCAP and the UN System have been providing technical assistance and capacity building support in the areas of the priorities for graduation, namely, structural transformation, trade facilitation, including trade diversification, financing for development, digital transformation, energy transition including the priority issue of critical raw minerals, which are aligned with the priority areas for the Doha Program of Action.

Member states adopted at the 78th Commission Session last year, the Bangkok Declaration which prioritizes and reaffirms our support to the LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS. The priority areas of the Declaration include better preparedness for future risks and shocks, protecting the people and the planet, digital transformation, trading and investing together, including through better connectivity, and raising financial resources and managing debt.

As the UN, we closely coordinate and work together with the UNRCO and the UN country team in providing support to our LDC member states for a smooth graduation and beyond.

Thank you very much.

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