Increasing the participation of least-developed countries (LDCs) in global supply chains was the focus of an experience-sharing session on 20 February bringing together WTO members and business representatives from LDCs. The event was organized under the aegis of the Sub-Committee on LDCs. WTO members welcomed the United Kingdom’s Developing Countries Trading Scheme which is expected to enter into force later this year.
It takes on average 30 to 40 days and nine different document requirements to clear imports and exports in LDCs, speakers noted. To boost LDCs' participation in global supply chains, they underlined the importance of trade facilitation measures, digitalization of import and export transactions and greater transparency of trade laws and regulations. Participants suggested providing training to both importers and exporters to raise awareness of customs processes so that LDCs can make better use of existing preferential market access schemes.
LDC business representatives noted that the competitiveness of LDCs' firms could be strengthened by actively participating in the multilateral trading system and deepening regional integration. Zambia's York Farm noted that compliance with international standards on food safety, labour and environment are among the key factors to allow a company to participate in the agricultural supply chain. Other challenges faced by LDC businesses include high costs related to freight, production, and meeting export requirements. Activities undertaken by the Standards and Trade Development Facility and the Enhanced Integrated Framework in tackling these challenges were recognized.
Introducing its Developing Countries Trading Scheme, the United Kingdom noted that LDC products are granted duty-free quota-free market access with simplified preferential rules of origin. The usefulness of preference programmes for LDCs implemented by WTO members, including transition periods for countries graduating from LDC status, was also recognized.
The event was held back-to-back with the 95th Session of the Sub-Committee on LDCs where WTO members noted recent trends in LDCs' trade (a video is available here) and the preparations for the Fifth United Nations Conference on LDCs (LDC5) to take place from 5 to 9 March in Doha, Qatar. The LDC5 Conference is expected to adopt the Doha Political Declaration and take stock of the implementation of the Doha Programme of Action for LDCs for the decade 2022-2031.
There are currently 46 LDCs, of which 35 are WTO members and eight are in the process of accession. More information on the Sub-Committee on LDCs can be found here.
More on LDC trade trends can be found here.
Here is the link to this article - https://www.wto.org/english/news_e/news23_e/ldevc_20feb23_e.htm