New York: 18 September 2006: International donors must step up to the plate and provide additional assistance and trading opportunities to the world’s poorest countries if real progress is to be made towards eradicating chronic poverty in Least Developed Countries (LDCs), the UN heard today.
In his opening address to delegates attending the UN General Assembly’s High Level Meeting on LDCs on Monday, President of Benin H. E. Mr. Boni Yayi , highlighted the progress achieved especially in health, education and gender equality since the adoption of the Brussels Programme of Action for LDCs in 2001. President Yayi, who is also Chairman of the LDC Group, pointed out that LDCs had achieved an average 7 percent annual growth, a remarkable feat in the face of a “difficult economic context”.
He further highlighted a recent series of debt cancellation measures by the international community that had contributed significantly to alleviating the pressures on fragile economies.
But while some strides had been achieved over the past five years, LDCs still faced significant barriers, especially the lack of international trading opportunities, President Yayi warned.
“Our economies remain victims of the multilateral trading system. In the case of cotton production, subsidies provided by development partners have dramatic consequences and aggravates poverty in our countries,” President Yayi underscored.
Cotton production is extremely important for Benin, as it is for other West African LDCs like Mali, Senegal and Burkina Faso. At the national level, the government depends on it for income from taxes and also for foreign exchange with cotton supplying between 50-70% of export earnings per year.
“International commerce which should constitute a motor for development has actually weakened capacity in LDCs. This situation demands our urgent attention,” said Mr. Yayi.
The President also noted that improved governance went hand-in-hand with sustainable economic development.
“I would like to assure you that the LDCs are aware that sustainable development is best achieved within the context of democratic governance, respect for the rule of law and reform of their institutions,” Mr. Yayi noted.
He concluded by appealing to donors to stay the course and continue supporting the Brussels Programme of Action, highlighting that it is the only international agenda targeting the specific needs of the LDCs.