DEVELOPMENT: COMMITTEES AND WORKING GROUPS
Sub-Committee on Least-Developed Countries
The Sub-Committee on Least Developed Countries (LDCs) is mandated to look at systemic issues of interest to LDCs in the multilateral trading system. It is subsidiary to the Committee on Trade and Development. The current chair of the Sub-Committee is .
The Sub-Committee implements the WTO Work Programme for the LDCs, which promotes the interests of LDCs in global trade, particularly in the areas of market access, technical assistance and WTO accessions.
- The Sub-Committee carries out reviews of trends in LDC trade in goods and services, based on factual LDC market access studies prepared annually by the WTO Secretariat. Furthermore, it considers notifications by members on their preference schemes for LDCs and follows developments in preferential rules of origin applicable to imports from LDCs.
- The Sub-Committee monitors technical assistance and capacity-building initiatives for LDCs. It regularly discusses the technical assistance provided by the WTO and the latest activities of initiatives such as the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF) and the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF), which aims to help LDCs integrate trade into their national development strategies. Capacity building programmes undertaken by international organizations in support of LDCs' trade development are also regularly discussed at the Sub-Committee.
- The Sub-Committee monitors the state of play in the accession working parties of LDCs. The guidelines on LDC accessions (adopted in 2002 and 2012) were developed in the Sub-Committee; these guidelines play an important role in facilitating the accession of LDCs to the WTO.
In addition, the Sub-Committee periodically monitors the implementation of the trade-related elements of the UN Programmes of Action for the LDCs, thereby contributing to the international community's support of LDCs' sustainable development.
The WTO recognizes as LDCs those countries designated as such by the United Nations. There are at present 46 LDCs on the UN list, 35 of which are members of the WTO. Eight LDCs are in the process of joining the WTO. They are Bhutan, Comoros, Ethiopia, Sao Tome and Principe, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Timor-Leste.