Graduating from status of least-developed country (LDC)

Graduation from LDC status represents an important milestone in the development path of LDCs. However, the phasing-out of international support measures associated with LDC status could present challenges for graduating LDCs in their efforts to continue to integrate into the global economy.


Decisions on graduation

Decisions on graduation are taken by the United Nations based on the recommendation of the Committee for Development Policy, an advisory body to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The criteria and process leading to graduation can be found here.

Path to graduation

There are currently 46 LDCs, of which 16 are on the path to graduation. Ten are WTO members: Angola, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Djibouti, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Nepal, Senegal, Solomon Islands and Zambia. Four are in the process of WTO accession: Comoros, Bhutan, Sao Tome and Principe, and Timor-Leste. The other two are Kiribati and Tuvalu.

Discussions at the WTO

The topic of LDC graduation has generated increasing interest at the WTO since the adoption of the LDC Ministerial Declaration in 2017, calling for positive action on LDC graduation. Since then, the LDC Group has put forward several graduation-related proposals in various WTO bodies, including a proposal seeking a ministerial decision on LDC graduation.

Trade-related implications of LDC graduation

At the request of the LDC Group, the WTO Secretariat, supported by the Enhanced Integrated Framework, has been helping LDCs to better understand trade-related implications resulting from graduation from LDC status. Trade impacts of LDC graduation provides a comprehensive assessment of trade-related implications of graduation from LDC status. The report looks at the implications in terms of LDCs' participation in the multilateral trading system, market access opportunities and development assistance.

The report sheds light on potential support measures that graduating LDCs can explore, in cooperation with their trading partners and the broader international development community, in order to achieve sustainable graduation. Trade remains key to helping these countries increase incomes and maintain growth.

A pocket edition of the report was issued in 2022, summarizing the implications of LDC graduation on  matters related to WTO rules.

The health and trade impacts of COVID-19 on graduating LDCs has also been assessed.


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