Comprehensive policies are needed to address 'growth paradox' in the world's poorest countries

28 September 2015

Weak productive capacities and a lack of structural economic transformation continue to accentuate the "growth paradox" seen in least developed countries in which growth has little or no impact on reducing poverty, UNCTAD's Trade and Development Board hears.

At its sixty-second regular session, UNCTAD's Trade and Development Board reviewed progress in the implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action for least developed countries for the decade 2011-2020.

Since the 2008-2009 global financial crisis, the economies of the world's 48 least developed countries have remained weak, despite averaging 5.2 per cent in growth per annum.

This growth figure is short of the 7 per cent agreed in the Istanbul Programme of Action as necessary to address underdevelopment and widespread poverty in these countries.

At this rate, the goal of half of all least developed countries meeting the criteria to graduate from the category by 2020, which is an aspiration of the Istanbul Programme of Action, cannot be met.

Weak productive capacities and a lack of structural transformation in these economies are both causes and consequences of their underdevelopment. The combined effect of this continues to accentuate the "growth paradox" in least developed countries: jobless growth with little or no impact on reducing poverty.

Furthermore, growth in these countries remains in a narrow economic base and often the benefits are not widely shared or distributed. In this context, the Trade and Development Board emphasized the need for governments of least developed countries with the support of development partners to put comprehensive policies in place to address socio-economic stagnation, marginalization and underdevelopment.

The Trade and Development Board also encouraged UNCTAD, with the support of member States, to continue helping least developed countries to build their productive capacities in order to bring about the necessary structural transformation for acheiving sustainable development.

Member States recognized the contribution that official development assistance, enhanced market access and foreign direct investment make in the development process of the poorest countries of the world.

The annual session of the Trade and Development Board reviewed progress in implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action as part of its standing agenda item, on 18 September 2015.