The Least Developed Countries, 1999 Report, is the fifteenth in the series of annual reports issued by the UNCTAD secretariat. The annual report on the Least Developed Countries are the most comprehensive and authoritative source of socio-economic analysis and data on the world´s 48 least developed countries.
The main focus of this year´s Report is the challenge of improving productive capacities in LDCs and overcoming their marginalization. The Report reveals that underlying LDCs´ poor productive capacities and competitiveness are structural and supply-side constraints including the lack of linkages within and between productive, service and infrastructural sectors which limits the potential for specialization and gains in productivity, insufficiently developed human resources, deficiencies in the physical infrastructures and other support services. There are also shortcomings in productive units related to weak technological capability and adaptive research and the inability of LDCs economies to generate adequate resources for investing in alleviating these constraints in order to enhance productive capacity.
The Report makes recommendations on how to improve productive capacities and competitiveness in LDCs through appropriate domestic policy measures to enhance the structural transformation of the economies of these countries and the international support measures required to complement national efforts. Policy issues for enhancing productive capacities and promoting competitiveness in LDCs are analysed from a cross-sectoral perspective.
The Report argues that public policy in LDCs has a pivotal role in this regard. Macroeconomic policies, in particular their stability and predictability, are critical in this respect, but sectoral and micro, or firm-level, policies are also necessary to facilitate the development of and sustain the competitiveness of productive capacity in specific sectors, industries and firms. In addition, LDC governments have to provide an enabling environment to foster private sector development. To nurture and sustain dynamic comparative advantage, there is a need for an integrating process that involve the formulation and implementation of government policy linked to actions by private enterprise and other institutions.
In the area of international support measures, the Report advocates for increased ODA, broader, deeper and faster debt relief and technical assistance. It argues that, with ODA accounting for up to 70 per cent of LDCs´ development budgets, these countries cannot by themselves address the structural weaknesses that undermine their productive capacities and competitiveness.
The Report is intended for a broad readership of governments, policy-makers, researchers and all those involved with development policy in general and LDCs in particular.
The Report includes a statistical annex, which provides basic data on the LDCs.