Statement by Hon. Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal, at the Annual Ministerial Meeting of LDCs
(New York, 26 or 27 September 2018)
Under Secretary General and High Representative for LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS,
At the outset, I commend Bangladesh for its role as chair of the Group of Least Developed Countries for the last three years, leading the Group so successfully, and welcome Malawi as interim chair of the Group.
I also take this opportunity to appreciate the role played by the UN Secretary-General as well as by the OHRLLS team.
LDCs are the battleground on which the 2030 Agenda will be won or lost. Stakes are high for us. And the cost of non-achievement is even higher.
In implementing 2030 Agenda, the experience till date shows a mixed progress for LDCs. Nepal is localizing the SDG implementation, remains committed to a balanced and robust economic development with a high growth rate.
Only a handful of LDCs are expected to reach the SDG target of at least 7% GDP growth per annum by 2019.
The increasing trade tensions these days hurt the furthest behind most. More than that, it assaults the very philosophy of a rule-based and fair global trade regime.
The structural constraints of poverty, inequality and unemployment continue to impede the pace of progress in LDCs. Adverse effects of climate change, natural disasters and internal conflicts further compound the challenges. Those LDCs, which are also geographically constrained, such as landlocked and small islands, are more vulnerable to these shocks. They bear higher cost of production, transportation and low comparative advantage of their exports.
International community should come forward to ensure market access, remove tariff and non-tariff barriers, lift quantitative restrictions, and help capacity building and technology transfer. They need financing and investments to conquer poor infrastructures, narrow production and export bases, dismal capital formation, and low factor productivity.
It is high time that all stakeholders, including the international community, deliver on their commitments.
The priorities of the Istanbul Program of Action (IPOA), re-endorsed by its Mid-Term Review, are critical to the development of LDCs. What we need is a strong synergy between the implementation of IPOA and the 2030 Agenda.
Nepal welcomes the operationalization of Technology Bank for LDCs in Turkey. With this, SDG target 17.8 has been achieved, the first ever target to have been met. The Bank needs to be adequately resourced, so that it can provide much-needed science, technology and innovation support to LDCs.
This year, in its triennial review, the Committee on Development Policy (CDP) has recommended four countries for graduation. It is encouraging that never have so many countries been identified for graduation at a single review.
Still, we fall short to meet IPOA’s aim to enable half of the LDCs to meet the graduation criteria by 2020. A robust response is required to ensure that a greater number of LDCs are prepared for graduation. Most importantly, the graduation must be smooth as well as sustainable.
For many LDCs, the graduation criteria itself fails to capture the reality in its entirety, which deserve a revisit.
Nepal met two out of three criteria for graduation for the second consecutive triennial review this year, but we still have low per capita income. Sustainability of our development progress is a major challenge. As the country is recovering from the disastrous earthquake of 2015 and continues to remain vulnerable to natural disasters, the decision regarding our graduation has been deferred till 2021.
We are now intensifying our development efforts to build ground for sustainable graduation as well as to become a middle-income country by 2030.
In June this year, the UN Member States adopted a transformative resolution on repositioning of UN Development System. It is our hope that a reinvigorated system works better for LDCs. If the system fails, LDCs would bear the severest of the brunt.
As I conclude, Mr. Chair, I would like to stress that the development path of LDCs should not remain slow, long and vague. The crucial phase of implementing 2030 Agenda as well as IPOA cannot go squandered. The greatest challenge in front of us is resource gap. International support measures should complement our national efforts.
The clock is ticking, and we cannot afford to lose a single opportunity.
I thank you all.