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    UNIS/OUS/317
    27 November 2015

    Re-issued as received

    Vienna Ministerial Conference focuses on "graduation path" out of LDC category

    VIENNA, 26 November (United Nations Industrial Development Organization) - Operationalizing inclusive and sustainable industrial development in the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) as a path to graduation out of the LDC category is the focus of a Ministerial Conference that opened in Vienna today.

    The two-day event is organized by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). It is bringing together more than 250 participants, including ministers from LDCs in charge of industry, representatives of relevant UN agencies, regional economic commissions, emerging countries' institutions, donors and private sector entities.

    Speaking at the opening, LI Yong, the Director General of UNIDO, said: "UNIDO has consistently accompanied the efforts of Least Developed Countries towards structural change and economic growth. The current UNIDO LDC Strategy 2012-2020 aims to fill the gap of inclusive and sustainable industrial development in LDCs. It contains UNIDO's commitments, which are articulated around the eight key development priorities of the Istanbul Programme of Action. Emphasis is placed on equity at all levels through empowering the poor and marginalized and ensuring, among others, gender equality, inclusive and equitable economic growth and sustainable development."

    Participants noted that the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals - among which Goal 9 focuses on building resilient infrastructure, promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialization and fostering innovation - highlight the need to significantly raise industry's share of employment and gross domestic product, in line with national circumstances, and double its share in least developed countries.

    In recent years, LDCs as a group have recorded a relatively high rate of economic growth, and their export record is also impressive. The value of LDC merchandise exports more than doubled over the past decade or so, rising from USD 99 billion in 2003 to USD 211 billion in 2014. The share of LDCs in world exports almost doubled in 15 years, from 0.6 per cent in 2000 to 1.1 per cent in 2014, triggered largely by a small group of LDCs. In addition, there has been a steady increase in intra-regional trade amongst LDCs, although the degree varies by country and region. In some East Asian LDCs intra-regional trade accounts for more than 80 per cent of their total trade.

    Another positive trend in LDCs is the growing middle class, which offers a large domestic consumer base that should be taken advantage of to propel further economic progress in these countries. In Africa alone, where most of the LDCs are located, the middle class currently stands at 300 million people and is poised to grow to 1.4 billion by 2050.

    " However, amidst the strong growth, impressive export record and growing consumer base, poverty issues and the lack of inclusive development still loom large. In LDCs, export-led growth based on primary commodities has failed to lift millions from the poverty trap, and has led to growth without development. On the contrary, it is the productive sector-led growth that is critical for lifting people out of the poverty trap. As evidenced by the developed, emerging and newly industrializing economies of the world, manufacturing and related services, including trade capacity building, constitute the pillar of rapid socio-economic transformation," said LI Yong.

    Apart from infrastructure development, including renewable energy development, the LDCs need to give special attention to critical elements such as knowledge, innovation and technological flows, inclusive and sustainable employment creation, environmental sustainability, and partnerships for economic transformation.

    It was emphasized that UNIDO has the expertise and provides a range of technical services to foster technology transfers and give policy advice to promote innovation and institutional capacity building for industrial competitiveness.

    Conference participants will hold a series of discussions in the context of the UN Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.

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    For more information, please contact:

    Bashir Conde
    UNIDO Africa Programme
    Email: B.Conde[at]unido.org