The People´s Republic of China yesterday announced a contribution of US$100,000 to the UNCTAD Trust Fund for Least Developed Countries (LDCs), on the occasion of the Trade and Development Board´s annual discussion on the LDCs.
In making the announcement, Mr. Li Zhongzhou (China) stated that the contribution demonstrated the importance his country attached to backing UNCTAD´s activities for helping LDCs integrate into the world economy. With the Chinese contribution, finance pledged so far, and commitments in the pipeline, now amount to US$2,900,000, nearly 60% of the initial target of US$5 million.
The Secretary-General of UNCTAD, Mr. Rubens Ricupero, expressed his thanks to the Government of China for its significant contribution to UNCTAD´s technical cooperation activities under the Trust Fund. The pledge was a positive response to a request made by Mr. Ricupero during discussions with Chinese officials in Beijing last December.
The latest contribution exceeds China´s average annual financial support, of US$50,000, to UNCTAD´s overall technical assistance programme over recent years. Previous extra-budgetary assistance was geared towards activities related to the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), research on financial and monetary issues undertaken for the finance Ministers of the Group of 24, and seminars on transnational corporations and investment.
Technical cooperation activities undertaken under the Trust Fund focus on strengthening export supply capacities through the development of integrated country-level programmes. Such programmes may include support for trade policy reforms and trade diversification, and financial and fiscal sector reforms. Other objectives are to improve trade and investment supporting/promoting services, enterprise development, enhancing the role of women in the development process, promoting trade efficiency and technology. The Trust Fund was established at UNCTAD IX, in May 1996, and became operational in February 1997.
There are currently 48 countries classified by the United Nations as least developed, with a population of approximately 600 million and an average annual income of less than US$700 per capita. Out of these countries 33 are situated in Africa.
The 48 LDCs are: Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Benin, Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Kiribati, Lao People´s Democratic Republic, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Niger, Rwanda, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Sudan, Togo, Tuvalu, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Vanuatu, Yemen and Zambia.