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Wednesday, November 24, 2010
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LDC dialogue kicks off today

Debapriya Bhattacharya, left, distinguished fellow of Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), speaks at a press conference at its office in Dhaka yesterday. Mustafizur Rahman, centre, CPD executive director, is also seen.Photo: STAR

A three-day international dialogue on exploring new global partnership for the least developed countries (LDC) will begin in Dhaka today.

Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), an independent think tank, will organise the discussion in partnership with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Centre.

The dialogue will also focus on the economic issues of the LDCs and find sustainable way outs, said Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya, distinguished fellow of CPD.

"We consider the fourth UN conference on the LDCs that would be in Istanbul in May 2011 very significant for the least developed countries like Bangladesh. And we want to prepare an outcome document for the LDC governments before the conference," he said.

Bhattacharya said the number of LDCs has increased to 49 from 25 over the last few years, and only two countries could graduate from that list.

"Now we have to find out the reasons why only two countries could come out of the LDC status and prepare to overcome the problems.

He was speaking at a press briefing organised by CPD at its office in the capital yesterday.

Bhattacharya said the LDCs have failed to make any significant improvement in reducing poverty in the past decade.

Although most LDCs have met many of the targets set in the last conference, such as improving human development indicators, attracting foreign investments and boosting exports, the economic status remains unchanged for most of them, he said.

"One fundamental reason I see behind this is the lack of diversification in these targeted areas. For example, the export volume of Bangladesh has increased over the years, but it's mainly dependent on a single item-RMG."

"At the same time, we have received more foreign investments than before, but those mainly came for the services sector and not for industrial development," he said.

So the progress was weak and not sustainable, he added.

Bhattacharya also stressed the need to keep in mind the newer challenges the LDCs are facing now, including a fragile global economy, global warming and internal political conflicts, while preparing a charter of demands.

"We have to look for more options, such as finding more markets for our products, more employments for workers and importantly more investments to develop infrastructure and better access to technology, from the upcoming conference," he said.

"I hope this dialogue will help us do the groundwork properly by creating awareness among the policymakers and civil society. But, the government has to do the real task --bargaining for the national interests eventually," said Bhattacharya.

Mustafizur Rahman, executive director of the CPD, said the dialogue would also focus on strengthening partnerships among the LDCs to help them reach a common goal of upgrading the economic status.

He said CPD would prepare a set of proposals in the end of the international dialogue on November 26, and send it to all the LDC governments.

"All the LDCs have to play a very significant role in the conference, where their fate would be shaped for the next decade."

Carlos E Alvarez Voullieme, deputy director of OECD Development Centre, and Anna Batyra, coordinator of Development Finance Network (DeFiNe), also spoke at the briefing.

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