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Statement by Mr. Yao Wenlong, Minister Counselor of the Permanent Mission of China at the 2008 Substantive Session of ECOSOC on Agenda Item 6(b): Review and Coordination of the Implementation of the Program of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2001-2010

2008-07-25 00:00

Mr. Chairman,

The Chinese delegation listened attentively to the introduction on this agenda item by the Under Secretary General, Mr. Diarra, and wishes to associate itself with the statement made by Antigua and Barbuda on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.  We would also like to express our appreciation to the Secretary-General for his comprehensive and informative report on this agenda item.

Mr. Chairman,

China is pleased to note that the least developed countries (LDCs) have registered good economic performance and achieved obvious progress in health and education in recent years, and that most of the LDCs are expected to realize by 2010 the growth and investment targets set forth in the Program of Action. We believe that this not only gives expression to the unswerving development efforts on the part of the LDCs, but also shows that the measures taken by the international community in assisting the LDCs have achieved initial result.

As a vulnerable group in the world economic system, the LDCs, however, have yet to fundamentally overcome their weaknesses in sustainable economic and social development. As of late in particular, with the international economic growth slowing down, world financial markets fluctuating, global inflationary pressures becoming visible, food and oil prices going up, the LDCs are encountering even more uncertainties in their development environment, and facing more arduous tasks and more severe challenges in their development efforts.  The statistics of the UN Food and Agricultural Organization show that of the 49 LDCs, 47 are low-income and food-deficit countries, and 20 countries with food crisis.  The rising food prices will seriously erode the development achieved by the LDCs, plunging a significant portion of their population back into poverty, and even leading to political destabilization and social unrest.  In addition, the LDCs find themselves severely incapable of dealing with challenges of rising oil prices and climate change, thus enduring severe shocks and impacts.

Mr. Chairman,

It is the common responsibility and obligation of the international community to help the LDCs realize sustainable development.  Coordinated and concerted international effort is a major, indispensable driver for the development of the LDCs. We appeal to the international community, and the developed countries in particular, to effectively implement their international responsibilities, take into account the new challenges facing the world economy and emphasize the following areas of work:

First, effective increase of development assistance. Development assistance is an indispensable source of funding for the development of the LDCs.  It's worrisome, though, that the official development assistance provided by the developed countries in 2007 saw an 8.4% reduction as compared with the previous year.  After deduction of debt forgiveness and emergency assistance, the official development assistance received by the LDCs is not enough to support the realization of the economic and social development targets set forth in the Program of Action. Therefore, the international community, and the developed countries in particular should honor, at an early date, their commitment to put 0.15-0.2% of their gross national income in their development assistance to the LDCs. They should also take into full consideration the recipients' development needs to ensure funding stability and predictability.

Second, focused response to food crisis. The LDCs are badly hurt in the global food crisis. Within the short term, the international community should increase its emergency food assistance to the LDCs to alleviate the shocks and impacts they endured as a result of rising food prices.  In the long term, the international community should focus its efforts on reducing the huge agricultural subsidy and trade protectionist measures that have distorted the international agricultural market, and significantly increasing the technology and funding support to the agricultural production of the LDCs.  Efforts should also be made to vigorously help the LDCs realize sustainable agricultural development to continuously enhance their food self-sufficiency.

Third, continuous expansion of trade preference. International trade is a major source of development funding for the LDCs.  But for a long time, the 49 LDCs take up a share of less than 1% of international trade.  Due to lack of diversification in their export product mix, the LDCs would see their trade share dwindle significantly after taking out such primary products as oil.  Therefore, the international community should continuously expand its scope of duty-free and quota-free market access for products of the LDCs.  The developed countries should implement at an early date their commitment to accord the LDCs with duty-free and quota-free treatment for at least 97% of their tariff lines, and effectively provide duty-free and quota-free market access to products that the LDCs have a substantial trade interest.



Mr. Chairman,

China fully appreciates the development predicament the LDCs are in, and resolutely supports their development efforts. China has vigorously participated in the international cooperation to help the LDCs by effectively carrying out the relevant commitments in the Program of Action. Since 1950, China has, within its capacity and under the framework of South-South cooperation, provided aid to other developing countries with large number of projects of varying types, and training of over 100,000 people, with the LDCs being the major beneficiaries.  In recent years, centering on the five measures announced by President Hu Jintao at the UN 60th anniversary summit and the outcomes of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum, we have comprehensively strengthened various support measures to the LDCs in debt relief, trade preference, personnel training and technical cooperation so that China's development can be enjoyed by the LDCs.  In the future, along with China's sustained economic development, we will continue to implement the relevant commitments set forth in the Program of Action, and deepen the mutually beneficial and win-win cooperation with the LDCs, thus making greater contribution to their economic and social development.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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