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23 July 1997

Update on preparations for the high-level meeting on least-developed countries

Note by the Secretariat - Addendum
This Note updates the information contained in document WT/COMTD/W/28 of 12 June 1997 on the state of preparations of the High-Level Meeting on Least-Developed Countries, which will take place in Geneva on 27-28 October 1997.

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A.  Meeting of the Sub-Committee on Least-Developed Countries of 26 June 1997

Following consultations held among States members of UNCTAD, agreement was reached at a meeting of the Sub-Committee on Least-Developed Countries on 26 June 1997 on a number of points relating to preparations for the High-Level MeetingSee footnote 1:

-  the agenda and format for the High-Level Meeting (see attachment);

-  there will be no set plenary speeches;

-  the criteria to be used for choosing the least-developed countries which will be featured in the country-specific round-tables at the High-Level Meeting, with the commitment of all the intergovernmental organizations involved that any least-developed country that wished subsequently to have a round-table and which has successfully completed the needs-assessment will be accommodated immediately;

-  six eminent business persons will be invited to participate in their personal capacity in the country-specific and thematic roundtables at the High-Level Meeting;

-  the participation of all members of all of the intergovernmental organizations involved;

-  observer status for the intergovernmental organizations accredited to WTO and UNCTAD.

-  the use of the WTO's "Singapore formula" for selecting and inviting NGOs to attend the High-Level Meeting in a non-speaking capacity, and the organisation of an NGO-symposium some weeks prior to the High-Level Meeting. There was agreement on the importance of NGO-representatives from least-developed countries attending the symposium and the High-Level Meeting.

Informal consultations are continuing on two substantive issues: the elaboration of specific themes for the thematic round-tables, and the text of the Integrated Framework for Technical Assistance which the High-Level Meeting will be invited to endorse.

B.  Procedural Issues

Subsequent to the meeting of the Sub-Committee on Least-Developed Countries on 26 June, the Director-General, Mr. Ruggiero, and UNCTAD Secretary-General, Mr. Ricupero, noting that neither of them had the authority to change the rules of procedure of their respective organizations, agreed on the need to establish rules of procedure for the High-Level Meeting that are acceptable from the point of view of both organizations. They discussed among others a formula whereby the rules of procedure of either organisation should be added to as necessary, to accommodate for example extending invitations to participate in the High-Level Meeting to all members and observers of UNCTAD that are not Members or observers of the WTO. This approach was discussed and endorsed in informal consultations conducted by the Chairman of the WTO General Council at a meeting on 11 July 1997.

Informal consultations will be held on the selection of the chairperson of the High-Level Meeting, and of chairs and rapporteurs for the thematic roundtables. Each least-developed country selected to be the subject of a country-specific roundtable will be invited to nominate the chair of its roundtable.

C.   Status of Preparations by Individual Least-Developed Countries of their Needs Assessment

As noted in Attachment 3 to document WT/COMTD/W/28, the Director-General, Mr. Ruggiero, wrote on 7 May to the Trade Ministers of all 48 least-developed countries inviting them to prepare a comprehensive assessment of their needs for trade-related technical cooperation, to serve as the basis upon which the six intergovernmental agencies involved most directly in the High-Level Meeting will respond with an integrated package of technical assistance. To ensure that the needs are prioritized, the checklist which serves as the basis for the needs assessment explicitly requests the countries to rank their technical assistance needs in terms of priority. As noted in Mr. Ruggiero's letter, considerable importance is attached to each least-developed country taking full responsibility for carrying out its own needs assessment, to ensure that the process is properly demand-driven; however, provision has been made for assistance to be given, by or through the inter-governmental organizations involved most directly in the High-Level Meeting, to any least-developed country which requests it in order to complete its own needs assessment.

Requests of this nature are normally addressed to WTO which immediately informs the other five organizations. When requesting assistance, least-developed countries have been asked to indicate whether they have a preference that assistance is provided by any one particular inter-governmental agency. An inter-agency process has been established to deal with requests for assistance on a case-by-case basis and to ensure that the process is properly coordinated. Where possible, assistance will be provided within the context of a technical assistance or other mission that the agencies involved have already planned to the country concerned, so as to make best use of available resources. Use is also being made, where possible, of resident missions of UNDP, the World Bank and the IMF. Least-developed countries engaged in completing their needs assessment have been requested to provide the intergovernmental agencies with the name of the responsible government office and officials involved.

As of 23 July, twenty least-developed countries had indicated that they are in the process of preparing their needs assessment. Fifteen had requested assistance from one or other of the agencies involved: Bangladesh, Benin, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Djibouti, Gambia, Guinea, Haiti, Madagascar, Mauritania, Sudan, Togo and Uganda. Ethiopia and Zambia had submitted draft needs assessments, which are currently being reviewed by the six agencies to decide on the appropriate follow-up. Nepal, Mozambique and Tanzania had indicated that they are in the process of preparing their needs assessment; Tanzania has indicated that it may request assistance at a later stage.

Following inter-agency consultations, and in the light of specific requests from individual least-developed countries, it has been agreed that UNCTAD and the ITC will follow up requests for assistance from Bangladesh, Gambia, Uganda and the Sudan. ITC will follow-up on the request for assistance from Guinea. WTO and ITC have already completed a mission to Madagascar and are also responsible for meeting requests from Djibouti and Haiti. The World Bank will provide assistance to Benin, Cape Verde, Chad, the Comoros and Mauritania. A decision on the requests from Togo and the Central African Republic, which were received only recently, will be taken shortly following inter-agency consultations.

D.  Market Access

The Director-General, Mr. Ruggiero, has written to all WTO Trade Ministers to seek their support in securing concrete results at the High-Level Meeting on improving market access for products of particular export interest to the least-developed countries.

E.  Participation of the Private Sector

The private sector will be able to attend the High-Level Meeting on the same basis as NGOs, that is to say as observers at formal sessions in a non-speaking capacity.

In addition, with a view to having the private sector's vision and perspectives appropriately reflected in the deliberations and conclusions of the Meeting, the Director General, upon recommendation of the International Trade Centre and the International Finance Corporation, has invited a small number of eminent business leaders and investors from developing and industrialized countries as resource persons to participate in the Meeting in their personal capacity and to contribute their practical experience, insights and ideas.

Furthermore, the International Trade Centre is conducting a survey of the major bottlenecks to international trade in the 48 LDCs as seen by their exporters. The results of this survey will be used by ITC as the basis for its background paper for the Meeting, entitled "A business perspective on principal bottlenecks to international business development and related technical cooperation needs in LDCs".

F.  NGO's

The Secretariat, in conjunction with UNCTAD, is organizing a symposium for NGO's prior to the High-Level Meeting on 25-26 September. Invitations will be sent to the following NGOs:

Development Workshop (Angola); UBINIG (Bangladesh); Association pour la Sauvegarde de l'Environnement et le Développement (Benin); Promotion Développement Industriel Artisanal Agricole (Burkina Faso); Centre de Documentation, d'Information de la Formation pour le Développement (Central African Republic); Les Amis de la Terre (Djibouti); Association de Coopération et de Recherche pour le Développement (Chad); National Organization of Development NGOs (Democratic Republic of the Congo); Réseau Africain pour le Développement (Ethiopia); Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (Gambia); Third World Network (Ghana); TINIGUENA (Guinea Bissau); Haitian Association of Voluntary Agencies (Haiti); Kenya Energy and Environmental Organization (Kenya); Madagascar Association for the Promotion of Enterprise (Madagascar); Council for NGOs in Malawi (Malawi); Third World Network (Malaysia); Comité de Coordination des Actions des ONG (Mali); World Vision Mauritania (Mauritania); Mozambican Association for Urban Development (Mozambique); SEWA (Nepal); Forum of African Voluntary Development Organizations (Senegal); Tanzanian Association of NGOs (Tanzania); Fédération des ONG du Togo (Togo); Development Network of Indigenous Voluntary Associations (Uganda); EUROSTEP (Belgium); ICDA/CENNT Network (Denmark); SOLAGRAL (France), International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development, Swiss Coalition of Development Organizations (Switzerland); OXFAM and CHRISTIAN AID (United Kingdom); Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (United States).

G.    Documentation

Drafts of the following background documents that are being prepared for the High-Level Meeting were circulated prior to the Sub-Committee's meeting on 26 June 1997:

-  The integrated framework for technical assistance including for human and institutional capacity-building to support LDCs in trade and trade-related activities (LDC/HL/2);

-  Review of market access opportunities for LDCs in their main export markets, and of the trade barriers they continue to face (LDC/HL/3); a sample for one such main export market was circulated by way of example of what the document will look like.

-  The context in which the High-Level Meeting is taking place (LDC/HL/4);

-  Inventory of trade-related technical cooperation activities conducted with the least- developed countries by the six intergovernmental organizations involved in the preparation of the High-Level Meeting (LDC/HL/9); a sample for Tanzania was distributed by way of example of what the document will look like.

-  The role of information technology in enhancing trade opportunities for LDCs and ways to facilitate its use by LDCs (LDC/HL/11).

Other background documents being prepared by one or other of the secretariats of the various agencies involved, or jointly, are:

-  Review of the international and domestic economic policy context within which LDCs are operating (LDC/HL/5);

-  A business perspective on principal bottlenecks to international business development and related technical cooperation needs in LDCs (LDC/HL/6);

-  A sustainable business strategy in LDCs (LDC/HL/7);

-  The role of investment in LDCs (LDC/HL/8);

-  Information from other intergovernmental organizations on their trade-related technical cooperation activities in LDCs (LDC/HL/10).

With regard to the last draft document listed above, invitations have been sent to the following intergovernmental organisations to provide information on their trade-related technical assistance activities with least-developed countries: African Development Bank, Agence de Francophonie, Asian Development Bank, Commonwealth Secretariat, FAO, Islamic Development Bank, OECD, UNECA, UNESCAP, UNIDO, World Customs Organisation and WIPO.

Attachment 1 Back to top

High-level meeting on integrated initiaitves for Least-develped Countries trade development

Proposed Agenda and Format

NB: In view of the relatively short duration of the meeting, and the importance attached to securing from it concrete results in several areas, no time has been allocated for plenary speeches. When making their interventions on specific agenda items or in roundtable discussions, government delegations will be invited to keep their statements short and to the point in order to allow business to be concluded expeditiously.

Monday, 27 october

Session I (9 a.m. - 1 p.m.)

Session II (3 p.m. - 6 p.m.)

Agenda Items 1, 2 and 3

Opening of the Meeting; Election of Officers; Adoption of the Agenda and Organization of Work

Agenda Item 4(a)

Initiatives to improve market access for least-developed countries and to diversify their export production. Under this agenda item, an opportunity would be provided for WTO Members, on an autonomous basis, to enhance their market access for imports from least-developed countries.

Parallel Sessions

Country-Specific Roundtables

Country A,

followed by

Country B,

followed by

Country C

Thematic Roundtable

Theme A

"Building the 'capacity to trade' in least-developed countries"

The aim of the discussion would be to identify actions that the least-developed countries can take, individually and at the regional and sub-regional levels, and that the agencies can take to overcome supply-side constraints to increased participation by least-developed countries in world trade and in the multilateral trading system, particularly through trade and trade-related policy reform, institutional capacity-building, and improved infrastructural facilities.

Tuesday, 28 october

Session III (9 a.m. - 1 p.m.)

Session IV (3 p.m. - 6 p.m.)

Parallel Sessions

Country-Specific Roundtables

Country D,

followed by

Country E,

followed by

Country F

Thematic Roundtable

Theme B

“Encouraging investment in least-developed countries”

The aim of the discussion would be to identify actions that the least-developed countries can take, individually and at the regional or sub-regional levels, and that the agencies can take to promote private domestic investment and foreign direct investment in tradeable goods and services sectors of their economies.

Agenda Item 4(b)

    Results of the country-specific roundtables

    An Integrated Framework for Technical Assistance, Including for Human and Institutional Capacity-Building, to Support Least-Developed Countries in Their Trade and Trade-Related Activities, for Conducting Programmes with Individual Least-Developed Countries within that Framework, and for the Monitoring and Evaluation of those Programmes

    Action envisaged: Endorsement by the Meeting of the Integrated Framework for Technical Assistance

Agenda Item 5

    Results of the thematic roundtables

    Action envisaged: Adoption of the Report of the Meeting

Agenda Item 6

    Other Business

Attachment 2 Back to top

Leading products exported by least developed countries: 1995 data




No. of LDCs for which principal export Total No. of LDCs exporting the product


Product Description      
270900 Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude 4,948,650 8 11
090111 Coffee, not roasted or decaffeinated 1,087,387 16 38
710231 Diamonds non-industrial unworked or simply sawn, cleaved or bruted 964,728 10 18
520100 Cotton, not carded or combed 764,375 10 33
740311 Copper cathodes and sections of cathodes unwrought 711,913 4 9
710210 Diamonds, unsorted, whether or not worked, but not mounted or set 562,037 2 14
030613 Frozen shrimps and prawns 526,194 5 23
620520 Men's or boys' shirts of cotton 445,470 5 32
260600 Aluminium ores and concentrates 364,074 2 5
440399 Wood in the rough, whether or not stripped of bark or sapwood 310,757 7 29
440333 Wood: Keruing, Ramin, Kapur, Teak, Jongkong, Merbau, etc. 292,328 3 18
810510 Cobalt mattes and other intermediate products of cobalt metallurgy, unwrought 275,530 2 7
610910 T-shirts, singlets and other vests of cotton, knitted or crocheted 275,005 4 35
240120 Tobacco, partly or wholly stemmed/stripped 257,486 2 18
260111 Non-agglomerated iron ores and concentrates 238,622 2 6
570110 Carpets and other textile floor coverings, of wool or fine animal hair 213,237 2 21
620530 Men's or boys' shirts of man-made fibres 200,035 1 16
620342 Men's or boys' trousers, breeches, etc., of cotton 177,809 5 33
030759 Octopus (excluding live, fresh or chilled) 172,571 3 17
710812 Gold in unwrought forms non-monetary 160,996 6 28
620630 Women's or girls' blouses, shirts and shirt-blouses of cotton 156,950 2 26
284410 Natural uranium and its compounds, etc. 120,375 1 2
440721 Specified tropical woods (Meranti, etc.) sawn lengthwise 117,308 3 21
271000 Petroleum oils, etc., (excluding crude) 115,437 1 17
080130 Cashew nuts, fresh or dried 113,816 4 17
611030 Jerseys, pullovers, etc., of man-made fibres, knitted or crocheted 109,066 1 18
120740 Sesamum seeds 108,579 4 24
620462 Women's or girls' trousers, breeches, etc., of cotton 106,301 3 28
740319 Refined copper products, unwrought 101,062 1 4
130120 Natural Gum Arabic 89,257 3 15
440799 Wood, n.e.s. sawn or chipped lengthwise, sliced or peeled 89,222 2 29
710310 Precious or semi-precious stones (o/t diamonds) unworked or simply sawn 82,497 1 27
090500 Vanilla 78,827 2 4
611020 Jerseys, pullovers, etc., of cotton, knitted or crocheted 70,876 1 25
160414 Prepared or preserved tuna, skipjack and bonito 68,216 3 11
071390 Dried leguminous vegetables, shelled, whether or not skinned or split 68,050 1 13
090240 Black tea (fermented) and partly fermented tea 64,265 1 26
440334 Wood in the rough, whether or not stripped (Okoume, Obeche, Sapeli, Sipo, etc.) 62,627 2 12
030749 Cuttle fish and squid (excluding live, fresh or chilled) 61,025 4 23
251010 Unground natural calcium phosphates, etc. 58,856 1 2
240110 Tobacco, not stemmed/stripped 57,959 2 17
710813 Gold in other semi-manufactured forms, non-monetary 54,483 2 9
281820 Aluminium oxide, other than artificial corundum 54,387 1 2
180100 Cocoa beans, whole or broken, raw or roasted 53,952 4 23
030379 Fish, frozen, excluding fish fillets and others 53,268 3 28
170111 Raw cane sugar, in solid form 52,859 2 6
100630 Semi-milled or wholly milled rice, whether or not polished or glazed 46,962 1 9
854430 Ignition wiring sets & other wiring sets of a kind used in vehicles, aircraft or ships 46,743 1 3
261400 Titanium ores and concentrates 44,689 1 4
100700 Grain sorghum 41,495 1 5
410221 Pickled skins of sheep or lambs, without wool 40,566 3 16
400129 Other natural rubber, in primary forms or in plates, sheets or strip 37,796 1 15
030559 Fish, dried, salted or in brine; smoked fish 37,616 1 28
030343 Frozen skipjack or stripe-bellied bonito 36,025 5 12
440320 Wood: other coniferous in the rough, whether or not stripped of bark or sapwood 35,360 1 14
081090 Other fruit, fresh and others 34,985 1 22
410612 Goat or kid skin leather, pre-tanned, (excluding further prepared) 33,781 3 17
510210 Fine animal hair, not carded or combed 32,178 1 3
611010 Jerseys, pullovers, etc., of wool or fine animal hair, knitted or crocheted 29,222 1 17
030342 Frozen yellowfin tunas 23,123 3 14
440722 Specified tropical woods (Okoumé, etc.) sawn 22,609 1 21
170310 Cane molasses resulting from the extraction or refining of sugar 22,098 1 10
070820 Beans, fresh or chilled 20,186 1 21
120720 Cotton seeds 19,820 1 13
100820 Millet 19,515 1 2
030799 Aquatic invertebrates, n.e.s., including flours, meals, pellets 19,476 1 20
090700 Cloves (whole fruit, cloves and stems) 18,047 1 9
440710 Coniferous wood sawn or chipped lengthwise, sliced or peeled 17,686 1 21
120300 Copra 17,508 2 8
440920 Non-coniferous wood, continuously shaped along any of its edges or faces 16,618 1 20
150810 Crude ground-nut oil 16,342 1 5
151110 Crude palm oil 15,828 1 11
400122 Technically specified natural rubber, in primary forms or in plates 15,747 1 10
440890 Veneer sheets and sheets for plywood and other 14,257 2 18
080450 Guavas, mangoes and mangosteens, fresh or dried 13,023 1 26
330129 Essential oils (including concretes and absolutes) 11,305 1 17
120220 Shelled ground-nuts, not roasted or otherwise cooked 11,060 1 18
020230 Frozen boneless bovine meat 10,727 1 13
251020 Ground natural calcium phosphates, aluminium calcium phosphates 9,666 1 1
621210 Brassières 9,560 1 10
640399 Footwear with outer soles of rubber, plastic leather or composition leather 9,250 1 19
070990 Other vegetables, fresh or chilled and others 9,198 1 28
854211 Monolithic integrated circuits, digital 8,977 1 34
440335 Tiama, Mansonia, Ilomba, Dibetou, Limba and Azobé 8,858 1 10
711210 Waste and scrap of gold, including metal clad with gold, excluding sweepings 8,845 1 9
130190 Natural gums, resins, gum-resins and balsams 8,243 1 19
080620 Dried grapes 7,563 1 3
284910 Carbides of calcium 6,620 1 3
080300 Bananas, including plantains, fresh or dried 6,213 1 18
151311 Crude coconut (copra) oil and fractions thereof not chemically modified 5,500 1 8
847330 Parts and accessories of automatic data processing machines 5,426 1 42
330126 Essential oils of vetiver (including concretes and absolutes) 5,371 1 3
610832 Women's or girls' pyjamas, etc., of man-made fibres 5,064 1 3
291890 Carboxylic acids with additional oxygen function, etc. 4,455 1 2
720229 Other ferro-alloys 4,314 1 4
030110 Live ornamental fish 4,292 1 39
300490 Other medicaments of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic uses 3,933 1 29
441299 Plywood, veneered panels and similar laminated wood and others 3,848 1 8
430130 Raw furskins of specified types of lamb, whole, with or without head 3,844 1 2
030621 Rock lobster and other sea crawfish (excluding frozen) 2,912 1 19
    16,083,069 (represents 75% of total trade in 1995)



No. of LDCs for which principal export Total No. of LDCs exporting the product


Product Description      
240220 Cigarettes containing tobacco 2,761 1 6
441010 Particle board and similar board of wood or other ligneous materials 2,440 1 8
640610 Uppers and parts thereof other than stiffeners 2,249 1 11
490199 Other printed books, brochures, leaflets and similar printed matter 1,770 1 42
720221 Ferro-silicon, containing by weight more than 55% of silicon 1,693 1 3
854419 Insulated cables/conductors and others 1,523 1 12
721420 Other bars and rods of iron or non-alloy steel containing indentations, ribs, etc. 1,463 1 3
230400 Oil-cake and other solid residues, of soyabean oil 1,420 1 8
140420 Cotton linters 1,044 1 6
200560 Asparagus, preserved other than by vinegar or acetic acid, not frozen 696 1 3
510121 Degreased shorn wool, not carbonized, not carded or combed 626 1 4
220410 Champagne and sparkling wine 398 1 9

Footnote: 1The report on the meeting is contained in WT/COMTD/LLDC/M/7 and Corr.1.