China, India and Thailand Fastest Growing Markets for LDC Nations

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Apr. 9 – World Trade Organization Director-General Pascal Lamy has stated that China, India and Thailand are the fastest growing markets for exports from the world’s least developed countries (LDC).

“Three of the five fastest-growing markets for LDC exports are regional partners: China, India and Thailand,” Lamy said.

The term LDC is defined by the United Nations as any country which exhibits the lowest indicators of socioeconomic development, with the lowest HDI ratings of all countries in the world. The concept of LDCs originated in the late 1960s, with a country classified as an LDC if it meets three criteria:

  • Low-income (three-year average GNI per capita of less than US$905, which must exceed US$1,086 to leave the list)
  • Human resource weakness (based on indicators of nutrition, health, education and adult literacy)
  • Economic vulnerability (based on instability of agricultural production, instability of exports of goods and services, economic importance of non-traditional activities, merchandise export concentration, handicap of economic smallness, and the percentage of population displaced by natural disasters)

LDC criteria are reviewed every three years by the Committee for Development Policy of the UN Economic and Social Council. Countries may “graduate” out of the LDC classification when indicators exceed these criteria.

As of January 1, the LDC classification applies to 48 countries. Of these nations, 33 are in Africa, 14 in the Asia-Pacific region, and 1 in the Americas. LDC nations in Asia include:

  • Afghanistan
  • Bangladesh
  • Bhutan
  • Cambodia
  • East Timor
  • Laos
  • Myanmar
  • Nepal

LDC trade grew twice as fast as world trade over the past decade and has doubled its share in global trade, while still only accounting for one per cent of the total. Lamy said the opening of trade barriers, supported by a higher mix of economic and social policies can help achieve higher growth in LDC trade. Just three nations – Botswana, Cape Verde and The Maldives – have graduated from LDC status.

However, half of the current LDC nations are expected to leave this designation by 2020 and with that, an increased share of global trade from LDC nations, and especially to the huge consumer markets of China, India, and ASEAN.