Two new reports examine graduation from Least Developed Country status

Dec 13, 2016

Two new reports launched today. Photo: UNDP Lao PDR / Somlith Khounpaseuth

 Lao PDR’s 5th National Human Development Report and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development´s (UNCTAD) Least Developed Countries Report 2016 were launched on Tuesday by Dr. Kikeo Chanthaboury, Vice Minister of Planning and Investment, and Ms. Kaarina Immonen, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative. The launch was attended by government officials from line ministries and development partners.

Since deciding on the goal of graduating from Least Developed Country status at the 6th Party Congress in 1996, the Government of Lao PDR has focused on the criteria for graduation in the country’s main strategic plans. With the intention to support the 8th National Socio-Economic Development Plan (2016-2020) and the Socio-Economic Development Strategy until 2025, the 5th National Human Development Report focuses on ways to ensure smooth graduation from Least Developed Country (LDC) status. “Moving out of LDC status requires raising people’s education and skill level, improving their health and raising their income in a sustainable manner, which eventually results in a higher level of human development”, stated Vice Minister Dr. Kikeo.

The report reveals that significant progress in human development and poverty reduction has been made in Lao PDR. Its Human Development Index value has risen significantly in the past decades, while its poverty rate has declined from 46% in 1992/93 to slightly over 23% in 2012/13. The encouraging progress on the Millennium Development Goals is, however, uneven across regions and ethnic groups as reflected in concentration of poverty and deprivation in some areas and large gaps of provincial Human Development Index values.

Lao PDR’s Gross National Income per capita and its education and health indicator values are on track to meet the LDC graduation thresholds in the next review by the United Nations’ Committee for Development Policy in 2018. Despite good progress, the country’s economy lacks structural economic transformation and diversification for smooth LDC graduation. The export structure remains weak and resilience to economic shocks and natural calamities continues to be low.

Graduation itself is not the goal, but only the first step, argues UNCTAD’s Least Developed Countries Report 2016. To weather the loss of the international support they received as LDCs and confront the challenges that lie further ahead requires what the Report calls "graduation with momentum" – a process of structural change to increase the productivity of their economies. For Lao PDR, International and regional integration, for instance, will create opportunities to diversify the economy by promoting areas of Lao PDR’s comparative advantage and plugging into regional and global production networks. At the same time, the country needs to overcome the challenges of limited human capital, a small labor force and low investments in human development sectors such as health, education and social protection.

For more information, please contact:

Mr. Sittiroth Rasphone

Ministry of Planning and Investment

5th Floors, New MPI Building,

Souphanouvong Avenue,

Vientiane Capital, 01001, Lao PDR

Tel: 856-21254827


UNCTAD Communications and Information Unit, unctadpress@unctad.org

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