NEW YORK, 27 MAY 2003
I thank you for the opportunity given to me to make this presentation on behalf of the United Nations Office of the High Representative at the thirteenth session of the High-Level Committee on Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries (TCDC). A conference room paper has been circulated to you elaborating the presentation that I would make now.
I convey to you, Mr. President, my greetings and felicitations on your election as well as to the other members of the Bureau of this session.
I would also convey our appreciation to the Director of the TCDC Unit, Mrs. Safiatou Ba-N'Daw, for organizing this session well and for presenting very useful documentation for our deliberations. We very much welcome the statements made so far by delegations, particularly the statement made by the representative of Morocco on behalf of the Group of 77 and China. This session of the High-Level Committee is special as it is taking place during the silver jubilee year of the adoption of the Buenos Aires Plan of Action.
Despite professed attention of the international community during the past years,
the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) continue to be marginalized in the global development process. The Millennium Declaration, adopted in 2000 by the United Nations General Assembly and the South Summit of the Group of 77 and China, held in Havana also in 2000, reiterated the need for special attention to these developing countries. It has been also widely acknowledged that supportive and specially focused international policies could play a crucial role in reducing poverty in the LDCs.
The population in the LDCs has risen to an estimated 700 millions, about 11 per cent of the world's population. Desperate poverty situations in these countries is known to all. External resource flow to them still remains very inadequate. Their share in world trade is less than one per cent.
In this backdrop, South-South cooperation has the potential of playing a significant role in promoting sustained growth and sustainable development for the LDCs. Based on the real developmental needs of LDCs, South-South cooperation should be built as an integral part of the international community's support to these countries in special need.
The Brussels Programme of Action (BPoA) adopted in May 2001 by the international community affirmed the role that South-South cooperation could play to draw on the expertise and resources existing in other developing countries for the benefit of the LDCs. The BPoA identified some important areas of cooperation that include building human and productive capacity, technical assistance and exchange of best practices particularly in areas related to health, education, trade, investment, environment, training, transit transport cooperation and technology. The BPoA also emphasized that South-South cooperation is not a substitute for North-South cooperation but a complement and encouraged the use of triangular mechanisms, which could ensure success of South-South cooperation through financing by donor countries.
Information collected by UNDP's Special Unit for Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries (TCDC) has indicated that the LDCs had cooperation and assistance programmes with many developing countries covering a wide range of activities. For example, in the case of Bhutan, it indicated that South-South cooperation was focused on the development of infrastructure and education; for Burkina Faso, it was in health and medicine; and for Senegal the areas were agriculture and information services. This information is elaborated in paragraph 12 of the report (TCDC/12/1) presented to this session.
Overall South-South cooperation from other developing countries to LDCs ranged from health, capacity building, trade and agriculture to economic infrastructure, debt cancellation and sharing of technology. Some successful examples of South-South cooperation that LDCs benefited from in recent years are identified below:
· A good number of developing countries extended to LDCs low-interest funds, establishing joint ventures and contributing to human resource development.
In 2000, China decided over two-year period to reduce or cancel the debt worth over $1.2 billion owed mostly by African LDCs. Also, last year, Morocco decided to cancel the debt of the African LDCs.
· In recent years, other developing countries had increased access to their markets for LDC products. According to UNCTAD, the exports of LDCs to other developing countries were 29.8 per cent of their total exports in 2000, against 62.5 per cent to developed countries. However, the share of their imports from developing countries increased and was 48.6 per cent compared to 42.1 per cent from developed countries. Morocco provided free market access to African LDCs exports.
· Since 1995, some developing countries (e.g. India, Malaysia, South Africa) became important sources of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) for LDCs. Perceptions of risk concerning FDI in LDCs are different among OECD investors from those of investors from developing countries. In general, FDI flows across developing countries appear to have been increasing in parallel with increases in South-South trade.
· Reduction of transportation costs and trade facilitation are offered by other developing and LDCs transit countries to the LDCs and other developing countries that are landlocked. Most transit neighbours of landlocked countries are developing countries and they have numerous agreements related to transit transport cooperation (e.g. Djibouti-Ethiopia, China-Mongolia, India-Nepal corridors)
· Malaysia provided training and consultative services during 2001 and 2002 to Cambodia, Lao P.D.R, Myanmar and Malawi, in project planning and management, agriculture, poverty eradication and diplomacy. India has run programmes on farming in Namibia and Senegal.
· LDCs received benefit from three-way cooperation in the area of
human-resource development, such as Bhutan with Singapore and Thailand,
and Burkina Faso with Cuba and the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.
· With a global estimate of 42 million (2002) people living with HIV, LDCs are among the worst affected and domestic resources are woefully inadequate to fight HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis simultaneously. Through South-South cooperation, activists from LDCs came forward to share experiences and established networks with activists from other developing countries on management of HIV/AIDS programmes, with special attention to lowering the price of related drugs.
There is indeed good potential for expansion of South-South cooperation in terms of promotion of investment, trade and technical cooperation in LDCs to achieve poverty reduction and sustainable development. Increased regional cooperation and greater market opportunities among developing countries in general, and with LDCs in particular, appear to be key factors for the expansion of South-South trade. This will also enhance the LDCs production processes and marketing skills and further equip them to tackle the more demanding markets of the North. It is now increasingly realized by LDCs that to participate more effectively in multilateral processes, and to survive in the increasingly competitive world market, they and other developing countries need to build the requisite capacities, and share experiences and complement one another's expertise.
Effective utilization of preferential arrangements is an even more serious problem for the LDCs because of the weaknesses of their supply capacities. LDCs have difficulties in increasing the rate of utilization of already available preferences accorded by developed countries. This has, however, opened opportunity for another area of South-South cooperation. LDCs existing market access has attracted interest, particularly from investors from other developing countries in raising sales to the US and EU markets. For example, in Uganda, Sri Lanka's largest manufacturer and garment exporter is seeking Uganda's export access to the US and EU markets and is negotiating to invest $1.5 million in a garments factory there. Also, Mauritius is investing in exportable sugar production capacity in Mozambique and Malawi for European markets.
Further preferences for LDCs by other developing countries need to be considered, and it is a joint challenge to increase the rate of utilization of already available preferences. Other developing countries also need to make their import regimes more liberal and allow more exports from the LDCs, taking into consideration the real needs of those countries.
UN system organizations are continuing to strengthen initiatives in favor of LDCs in the context of South-South cooperation. In achieving food security, FAO Special Programme for Food Security provides experts from developing countries to work with farmers in LDC rural communities. By March 2002, 22 agreements related to food security were signed between LDCs and other developing countries such as: Senegal-Viet Nam, Ethiopia-China,
Lesotho-India, Niger-Morocco, Bangladesh-China, Mali-China, etc. One of them has been signed between two LDCs: Gambia-Bangladesh.
To strengthen investment cooperation among developing countries, especially in favor of LDCs, UNCTAD created a technical cooperation project called Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) negotiations. Up to now, many agreements were concluded at BIT negotiations for LDCs.
International Trade Centre (ITC) 'matchmaking' programmes are of major significance in building partnerships that benefit LDCs. The programmes enable enterprises in developed countries to locate potential partners in developing countries, many being LDCs and through a set of financial and technical arrangements engage them in the production and distribution of specified goods and services.
As the economies of the developing countries are becoming increasingly
complementary, good cooperation prospects exist between LDCs and other developing countries. Increased South-South and triangular cooperation are important avenues that could effectively support the development efforts of the LDCs. This in turn would contribute to further implementation of the Brussels Programme.
I hope that the focus of this presentation could be incorporated subsequently in the outcome of this session.
I thank you, Mr. President.