Remarks by Jennifer McGowan, U.S. adviser, on Countries in Special Situations, to the UN General Assembly's Second Committee (Economic and Financial)

Jennifer McGowan, U.S. Adviser
New York, NY
October 17, 2012




AS DELIVERED

Mr. Chair,

We would like to join others in congratulating Under Secretary Acharya on his appointment. He has proven himself a strong advocate for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries, and Small Island Developing States and we look forward to working with him on addressing the challenges they face.

Thank you for the opportunity today to address the critical challenges facing the Least Developed Countries and Landlocked Developing Countries. Our attention to the needs of the poorest and least developed countries should not be limited to one agenda item. As our committee looks at overarching issues on poverty alleviation, sustainable development, and food security, among others, we should focus on the particular needs of the LDCs and LLDCs.

The Secretary General’s report on the Istanbul the Program of Action for LDCs reminds us that although LDCs have experienced relatively strong growth over the past decade, progress has varied by both country and sector. On their current trajectories, many LDCs will not meet the Millennium Development Goals, and the challenges faced by those countries that have been subject to conflict or instability are particularly stark.

As the report notes, economic growth in LDCs has been substantially driven by natural resource-based sectors and commodities, with only a limited number of LDCs having been able to substantially diversify into other sectors. The Istanbul Program of Action correctly identifies economic diversification and the building of domestic productive capacity as key drivers of sustainable economic growth and development.

Addressing these challenges will require much more than the ODA financial flows on which LDCs, more than other developing countries, have relied on in the past. LDCs will need to mobilize domestic financial resources and attract private investment from abroad, leverage remittances and other financial flows and take advantage of trade opportunities. They will need broader partnerships with emerging and traditional donor economies, and their private sector and civil societies will play an increasingly important role.

LDCs that emphasize transparency and democratic accountability will draw greater investment from abroad and succeed in unlocking domestic financing. Countries that strive to include women, youth and disadvantaged groups in their economies will benefit from broader and more sustainable economic prosperity.

As we ultimately plan for the successful graduation of these countries, we join others in emphasizing the continued need for a smooth transition process. The United States provided $10 billion in development assistance to LDCs in 2011, and we remain committed to ensuring that graduation from the LDC category does not disrupt our development cooperation with partner countries. Advance planning between recipient countries and their development partners as countries near graduation will mitigate the risk of an abrupt disruption of development support.

Mr. Chair,

Landlocked Developing Countries face a unique set of challenges as they strive to further integrate in the global marketplace and lift their citizens out of poverty. In order to truly realize the positive benefits of trade, LLDCs need to be able to safely, securely, and routinely move their goods to market. Moving products to markets requires infrastructure. As the Almaty Program of Action makes clear, bilateral and regional agreements facilitating the transit of goods between LLDCs and their transit neighbors, as well as the establishment of transparent and efficient legal regimes to govern them, are even more essential. Investments in infrastructure will only be as viable as the legal and regulatory systems that underpin them.

The United States will continue to help LLDCs address their particular challenges. This year alone we allocated in excess of $4.8 billion in assistance to LLDCs. We commend the important work undertaken by the World Bank, regional banks, regional institutions, the private sector, and others in this regard. However, the LLDCs most important partners remain their transit developing country neighbors.

We join our colleagues in welcoming the 10-year Review of the Almaty Program of Action in 2014, and are committed to ensuring that the conference is a success and broadens and deepens the partnership in support of LLDCs.

Mr. Chair,

Every country faces its own particular challenges: some are just emerging from conflict, some lack access to markets, some need to build a more productive and diversified economic base to allow their citizens to emerge from poverty. And while each country has primary responsibility for its own economic and social development, we must deepen the international commitment and broaden the development partnership to support the aspirations of LDCs and LLDCs.

Thank you.

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PRN: 2012/223