For use of information media - Not an official record

14 November 1996

To elaborate their position on issues before the First Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO), to be held in Singapore next month, the Ministers of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) adopted a Declaration, calling upon the Conference to adopt a Plan of Action in favour of LDCs.

This Declaration was presented today at the Ministerial Meeting of LDCs within WTO by the Coordinator of LDCs, Mr. Tofael AHMED, Minister of Trade and Industries of Bangladesh. It was elaborated and adopted during a private Ministerial Meeting on Wednesday, organized with the support of UNCTAD. More than 25 Ministers from LDCs attended the Meeting. Senior officials from a number of LDCs that are not members of the WTO also participated.

The Ministers proposed a four-point programme to the Singapore Conference to enable LDCs´ overcome challenges and to reap the full potential benefits of the Uruguay Round Agreements:

  • concrete action for full and expeditious implementation of all special and differential measures accorded to LDCs under the Uruguay Round Agreements, including of the Marrakesh Declaration relating to LDCs, and the Ministerial Decision on Measures in Favour of LDCs, and for giving effect to the Ministerial Decision on Measures concerning the Possible Negative Effects of the Reform Programme on Least Developed and Net Food-Importing Countries;
  • providing adequate technical assistance to LDCs with a view to facilitating implementation of their obligations arising from the Uruguay Round Agreements and strengthening of their negotiating capacity;
  • adoption of further measures in the area of market access for all items of exports of LDCs, in particular, by providing duty-free and quota-free treatment thereto;
  • adequate reflection of the particular situation of LDCs and their interests in the work of WTO, including in the pursuit of the built?in agenda.

The Ministers underscored that while LDCs should continue their efforts to strengthen their economic reform process and build supply and competitive capacities, they will require adequate assistance from their development and trading partners and the concerned international organizations in realizing the potential benefits from the Uruguay Round Agreements. They also called for development cooperation among developing countries to alleviate obstacles to the development of LDCs´ trade.

In their Declaration the Ministers considered the Special Initiative on LDCs launched by the Secretary General of UNCTAD and UNCTAD-wide integrated country programmes to strengthen supply capacities of LDCs´ exportable goods and services as important steps in assisting their integration into the world economic and trading systems.

Speaking to the Ministers at their meeting on Wednesday, Ambassador Bjorn SKOGMO of Norway elaborated his country´s actions in support of the development of LDCs. Chandra Patel, the Officer-in-Charge, Office of Special Coordinator for LDCs in UNCTAD, reviewed the implications of the Uruguay Round Agreements on trade of LDCs and identified national and international measures needed to improve their participation in the international trading system.

For more information, please contact:
Chandra Patel, Officer-in-Charge
Office of the Special Coordinator for Least Developed, Landlocked and Island Developing Countries,
T: +41 22 907 5893
F: +41 22 907 0046
Carine Richard-Van Maele, UNCTAD Press Officer
T: +41 22 907 5816/28
F: +41 22 907 0043


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