DG Okonjo-Iweala stressed that LDCs' trade priorities form an integral part of broader trade and development discussions, including in the context of WTO reform. “We need to keep examining development-related matters across the spectrum of the WTO — from regular Committee work to trade negotiations to dispute settlement,” she said. She also acknowledged ongoing efforts by development partners and others to ensure more effective trade support for LDCs.

Delivering the opening remarks, DG Okonjo-Iweala welcomed the ratification of the WTO's Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies by many members and encouraged other members to follow suit. “We also need to keep making progress on the second wave of fisheries negotiations,” she noted.

Close to 80 delegates from LDCs and their development partners took part in the event to discuss trade and development priorities ahead of MC13, which will be held in February 2024. LDC graduation, trade support and WTO reform featured prominently in members' discussions. Also speaking at the opening session were Ambassador Kadra Ahmed Hassan of Djibouti, Coordinator of the WTO LDC Group, and Ambassador Chenggang Li of China.

Highlighting LDCs' trade priorities, Ambassador Hassan said: “We hope we can achieve an outcome on LDC graduation by MC13 which would boost the confidence of graduating LDCs in adjusting to changing trading conditions, while also reconfirming the relevance of the multilateral trading system." Stressing the importance of making progress on WTO reform discussions, she said: "All of us would like the WTO to be more responsive to the needs of its members. We need to continue taking small steps and scaling-up good practices, including in the work of the Sub-Committee on LDCs.”

Ambassador Chenggang Li said: “Three-quarters of WTO members are developing and least-developed economies, 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. Development is an area on which ministers must deliver at MC13. Agreements are within reach on a transition period for graduation from LDC status, and on facilitating the accession of LDCs to the WTO. Finding common ground on implementing special and differential treatment, and on allowing developing economies policy space and the opportunity to benefit from technology transfer will also be important.”

Several LDC development partners shared their perspectives on trade and development as well as on current discussions in the WTO, including on digital trade.

Representing one of the key pillars of China's LDCs and Accessions Programme, the South-South Dialogue on LDCs and Development aims to strengthen LDCs' participation in the multilateral trading system. 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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