Benchmarking Productive Capacities in Least Developed Countries

At the thirteenth session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD XIII), which took place in Doha, Qatar, in April 2012, member States requested UNCTAD to develop quantifiable indicators with a view to providing “an operational methodology and policy guidelines on how to mainstream productive capacities in national development policies and strategies in LDCs” (Doha Mandate, para. 65(e)).

The present report, which is part of ongoing work by the secretariat and a response to the above-mentioned request, focuses on measuring and benchmarking productive capacities in least developed countries (LDCs): their current levels; how LDCs have performed in the recent past; and how the productive capacities in LDCs compare with the internationally agreed goals and targets and with other developing countries.

It is found that LDCs generally lag behind other developing countries with respect to most indicators, although there is considerable heterogeneity in both groups of countries. The overall impression of the LDC group as a whole is that the development of productive capacities in these countries is advancing, but that the progress is slow and that the challenge of meeting the objectives of the Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA) by 2020 is daunting.

Although specific policy recommendations must be done on a case-by-case basis, general themes that recur in LDCs include the need to improve data collection and data management, to build national statistical and database management capacities, to continually undertake reforms and to support and promote additional investment in and financing of productive capacities. The development partners of LDCs have important roles to play, including by rebalancing the sectoral distribution of official development assistance (ODA), by improving market access and by channelling resources from the Aid for Trade initiative to augment productive and supply capacities of LDCs.