LDCs conference pitches for intl efforts

New Delhi: International commitment at the highest political level and redressal of issues, including extreme poverty and capacity building which are key challenges for them are some of the expectations articulated by Least Developed Countries (LDCs) at the end of a two-day ministerial conference here on Saturday.

Expressing concern that international efforts so far have lacked a comprehensive approach to effectively address the challenges faced by LDCs, the conference, which issued the document `Delhi Declaration`, also pitched for stronger international commitment at highest political level to implement the agenda of Istanbul conference to be held in May.

While announcing the adoption of the document, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said, "I have no doubt that the South- South cooperation will continue to play a meaningful and a larger role in strengthening international support measures for the LDCs."

Continuing with its commitment of assistance to LDCs, India, during the conference, announced additional assistance which included establishment of a special fund of USD five million, a USD 500 million credit line for developmental projects and five scholarships every year under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme (ITECP) for each LDC.

The objective of the Conference, which was attended by over 100 delegates from LDCs and their High Representatives at the UN and Observer countries, is to provide inputs to the Fourth UN-LDC Conference in Turkey, which is expecting an ambitious outcome, one which would allow at least 50 per cent of the countries to reach the threshold of graduation by 2020.

Demanding an early conclusion of the Doha Round with a development-based outcome to allow meaningful integration of the LDCs in the multilateral trading network, the declaration expressed deep concern at the debt situation of several LDCs and strongly appealed for the creation of a debt sustainability framework for LDCs to address their systemic vulnerabilities and to build resilience in their economies.

Underscoring that the interconnected and globalised world has made it essential for the international community to accord its highest priority to the cause of LDCs to ensure global peace, security and prosperity, the meeting said the Istanbul Conference must galvanise global action in support of the development needs of LDCs, whose progress would bring greater global growth and opportunities for all.

Over the decades, the foreign direct investment from India to LDC countries has increased dramatically, and is estimated to be around USD 35 billion. It has provided USD 4.3 billion lines of credit to LDCs over the years.