Laos eyes graduation from Least Developed Country status in 2026

VIENTIANE, March 1 (Vientiane Times/ANN): The Laos government will step up human resource development and cooperation with development partners to ensure Laos is able to graduate from the Least Developed Country Category.

There will be an extended preparatory period towards Laos’ assumed graduation from this category in 2026.

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Saleumxay Kommasith, said that during a recent triennial review of Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Laos was recommended for graduation with an extended 5-year preparatory period, effectively setting graduation in 2026.

This would occur following a positive and continued trajectory throughout the time period leading up to graduation under the United Nations Committee for Development Policy.

Graduation from LDC status has been a long term objective of the Lao government since 2000, through strong commitment and consistent progress in implementing National Socio-economic Development Plans.

Laos’ removal from the LDC list is not an end in itself and does not imply that no poverty remains but indicates the hard earned achievements of the government in many priority areas, Saleumxay said.

The decision by the United Nations Committee for Development Policy paves the way for a smooth preparatory period before Laosis officially removed from the list of LDCs, he added.

This year, the Committee considered the impact of Covid-19 on development progress, which in turn played a role in the decision to recommend an extended preparatory period before graduation itself would take place.

However, given the current circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic, concerns persist because the data assessed by the review meeting did not fully cover the impacts of the pandemic.

Against this backdrop, continued support and assistance from the international community is as much necessary as before the review, especially in the crucial transition period.

UN Resident Coordinator to the Lao PDR,Ms Sara Sekkenes, said “Graduating from the group of Least Developed Countries has been a development goal for Laos for many years, one that has been emphasised in the country’s national socio-economic development plans and policy priorities.”

“Therefore, it is very welcome to see the country’s consistent progress across a broad range of indicators, despite the many development challenges faced, including the setbacks presented by the Covid-19 outbreak but, nevertheless, leading to the United Nations Committee for Development Policy recommendation that it graduate.”

The United Nations Committee for Development Policy, a subsidiary body of the UN Economic and Social Council, reviews the LDC category every three years and recommends to the Council and the UN General Assembly which countries should be included into, or graduated from the list.

There are currently 46 nations on the list of Least Developed Countries.

Reviews are based on quantitative criteria - Gross National Income per capita, Human Assets Index and Economic and Environmental Vulnerability Index - as well as country-specific additional information. - Vientiane Times/ANN
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