Graduation from the status of least-developed country (LDC) marks an important milestone in the development path of each LDC. However, the phasing-out of international support measures associated with LDC status could present challenges for graduating LDCs in their efforts to continue to integrate into the global economy.
The report examines the implications of graduation in terms of LDCs’ participation in the multilateral trading system, market access opportunities and development assistance. The impact of graduation will vary for each LDC depending on factors such as export structure, use of preferential treatment, and their terms of entry into the WTO. In addition, although a quarter of LDCs were on track to graduate from LDC status prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic dislocation resulting from the pandemic threatens to delay graduation for some countries. The analysis in this report focuses on how graduation will affect LDCs’ trade relations, whether that graduation happens as planned or at a later date.
Trade remains key to helping LDCs to increase incomes and maintain growth, and the report sheds light on potential support measures that graduating LDCs can explore, in cooperation with their trading partners and the broader international development community, in order to achieve sustainable graduation. As graduating LDCs begin to enter a more competitive environment, particularly in the context of the economic dislocation resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, solidarity and partnership from the international community will be vital.
Co-published in 2020 by the World Trade Organization and Enhanced Integrated Framework.