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From left: Alexander Tzeliuk, Counselor at the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Belarus to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva; UNCTAD's Rolf Traeger; and Vi Chief, Vlasta MackuA group of 22 students and three lecturers from Vi core member, the Belarus State Economic University, joined a videoconference presentation of UNCTAD's The Least Developed Countries Report 2014 from the UNICEF offices in Minsk February 24.

Led by report co-author and coordinator, Rolf Traeger, Chief of the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Section at UNCTAD, the videoconference counted with the participation of Alexeksandr Tselyuk, Counselor at the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Belarus to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva.

This year’s report examines the linkages between structural transformation, economic growth and human development. In light of LDCs’ performance with regard to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the report looks at what these countries can do to transform their economies in order to foster economic growth and reach human development, so as to attain the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

Although insufficient to meet all of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Traeger praised the performance of Asian LDCs, which observed the highest poverty reduction rate in the group. Failure to attain the goals was due, in his words, to the 'LDC Paradox': "the high rates of economic growth between 2002 and 2013 did not materialize in a commensurate high human development rate."

In terms of the SDGs, which span from 2015 to 2030, Traeger highlighted "the importance of mobilizing resources in order to finance economic development through domestic taxation, foreign direct investment, Official Development Assistance (ODA) (especially when directed to infrastructure), and investment undertaken by the diaspora." The priorities for this investment should be set along the lines of an industrial policy aimed "not only to focus on current comparative advantages, but also to create new comparative advantages."

Traeger welcomed the SDGs’ reaffirmation of international quantitative commitments on ODA and recalled the importance of aid quality in terms of sectoral allocation, modes of delivery, respect for country ownership, etc. He added that to maximize the impact of trade agreements on LDCs, new specific commitments and provisions for these countries should be included and enforced.

Questioned about the prospects for LDC countries to graduate out of the category, he commented positively on the experience of certain Asian countries such as Laos and Cambodia, which are heading into an industrialization process, raising labour productivity and fostering employment and income and wage growth.

Tselyuk stated that the report contains useful lessons for Belarus, such as the importance of mobilizing resources for structural transformation, gaining access to markets through different means, and working on different trade agreements that take into account the realities of the Belarusian economy.