“The COVID-19 pandemic has wiped out a decade of progress for LDCs in global trade: by the end of 2020, the value of LDC goods and services exports was 0.7 per cent below where it was in 2011. LDCs are struggling to maintain the 1 per cent share of global trade they achieved a decade ago — it was down to 0.91 per cent last year,” DG Okonjo-Iweala noted.

“This Dialogue will help to shed some light on where we are in key areas of our work and where we might have some landing zones. Beyond Trade and Health, we must conclude an agreement on fisheries subsidies, and achieve strong outcomes on agriculture, and development. Of course, special and focused treatment for the LDCs must be an integral part of all these discussions. … Enabling LDCs to become more resilient and more integrated into the global economy is critical for meeting international development goals and for building a trading system fit for the 21st century.” Read her full remarks here.

The purpose of this annual retreat is for ambassadors from LDCs to discuss their countries' priorities for the upcoming Ministerial Conference scheduled for 30 November to 3 December. The objective is to better coordinate their negotiating positions to achieve trade-related outcomes that will help LDCs meet their development objectives.

DG Okonjo-Iweala opened the event with Ambassador Chenggang Li of China and Ambassador Ahmad Makaila of Chad, coordinator of the LDC group.

Ambassador Makaila said: “The South-South Dialogue, supported by China, provides an opportunity for the WTO LDC Group and our South partners to jointly explore opportunities for enhancing cooperation and forging convergence on LDC priorities and on trade and development issues of mutual interest.”

Ambassador Chenggang Li of China noted that the South-South dialogue forms an integral part of China's Aid for Trade to LDCs programme that seeks to boost LDCs' trade opportunities. He reiterated China's continued commitment to help LDCs integrate into the multilateral trading system. “Three quarters of WTO members are either developing or least-developed countries, and they are the indispensable part of global economic development. Without their economic and social development, the common prosperity of the world will never be achieved,” he said.

The Dialogue on LDCs and Development is one of the five pillars of China's LDCs and Accessions Programme aimed at strengthening LDCs' participation in the WTO. There are currently 46 LDCs, of which 35 are WTO members and eight are in the process of accession.

More information on the event is available here.




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