Tag Archives: least developed country

Climate, Peace, Development Desires Aired as Laos Meets World at Annual UN Assembly

Mr Saleumxay Kommasith

Between US President Donald J. Trump’s signature America First rhetoric and self-appraisals generating “spontaneous murmurs” and the attendance of New Zealand’s first baby and mum Jacinda Adern, you might be forgiven for missing Laos’ Foreign Minister in the international news reports generated at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly this weekend.

Yet crucial issues of climate change, support for vulnerable communities and countries, sustainable development, peace on the Korean peninsula and beyond and the unilateral imposition of sanctions were among those issues raised by Laos when it had the opportunity to speak directly to the international community.

Laos’ Foreign Minister Saleumxay told the UN General Assembly on Saturday in New York that Laos supported and urged the international community to uphold and further strengthen multilateralism. “This remains one of the core values of our only universal organization, the United Nations,” he said.

Realizing the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at a time of a changing climate requires national governments and the international community to work “hand-in-hand’ with extra thought to the vulnerable, particularly Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States. “Against this backdrop, it is more crucial than ever for world leaders to honour the commitments pledged in the Paris Agreement.”

Laos also highlighted the critical importance of peace and security for socio-economic progress in all nations. “Past experiences have shown that settling disputes by peaceful means is the best way to ensure durable peace that is essential for sustainable development of a nation.”

The international community must help build mutual trust and confidence among countries to support them overcome challenges between them and resolve disputes peacefully, he said.

As such, Minister Kommasith welcomed the thawing of relations in the Korean Peninsula and between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the United States.“We hope that such positive momentum will be strengthened, thereby, contributing to the maintenance of peace and stability, and denuclearization in the region as a whole.”

He also called for the end to the economic blockade of Cuba, given that the enforcement of isolation and sanction measures imposed on any country may not bring about benefits to the international community. “On the contrary, it will cause a loss for all and lead to increasing hostility,” the minister said.

The Lao minister expressed his country’s concern on the continued lack of progress on the Isreal-Palestine front.“We hope that this long overdue issue on Palestine will be resolved by peaceful means in order to achieve a two-state solution where Palestine and Israel can live side by side in peace, security and within internationally recognised borders as stipulated in the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions,” Minister Saleumxay said.

Mr Kommasith also underlined the need to address the scourge of transnational crime, at all levels, noting Laos’ commitment with regional countries at the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the international community in the fight against illicit drug trafficking, illegal wildlife trade, human trafficking and other serious crimes.

PM: Laos Won’t Graduate From Least Developed Country Status by 2020

Laos Least Developed Country

In a surprise revelation, Prime Minister Sisoulith told the members of the National Assembly last week that despite the government’s enormous efforts, Laos will not be able to graduate from its Least Developed Country (LDC) status by 2020, a goal that has been one of the nation’s priorities since 2001.

In response to the pressing concerns of the 5th Ordinary Session of the National Assembly on the topic of poverty eradication, Prime Minister Sisoulith said, “Laos has engaged on a path of development for 43 years. Since 2001, the Party and Government have tried their best to implement a national development plan with the goal of graduating the country from Least Developed Country status, an economic classification given to Laos by the United Nations based on three criteria. And for the first time since then, United Nations representatives have come to perform inspections and have concluded that Laos will not be able to free itself from this classification by 2020 for a number of reasons.”

LDCs are assessed using three criteria: the Human Asset Index (HAI) which assesses health and education targets, economic vulnerability, and gross national income (GNI) per capita.

Countries are required to meet at least two of the three criteria at two consecutive triennial reviews by the Committee for Development Policy to be considered for graduation.

The 2018 Laos review found that the country has met requirements for GNI per capita and the HAI. However, the Economic Vulnerability Index (EVI) has not passed the threshold.

Speaking at the biannual assembly session, the PM stated that Laos’ GNI per capita of US$1,996 exceeded the graduation threshold of US$1,230 or above, while the HAI stood at 72.8, above the required threshold of 66.

The EVI, however, was 33.7, too close to the threshold of 32 or below.

The PM said that Laos must strive harder to meet the set criteria by creating a firm foundation in preparation for graduation.

Laos Least Developed Countries

Less Aid if Laos Graduates from Least Developed Country Status

The policies toward Laos by various development partners could change if Laos graduates from Least Developed Country status, and economists have warned that Laos must prepare for changes in aid and loan policies.

Laos would lose some Official Development Assistance (ODA), loans, and cease to enjoy some preferential trade treatment.

ODA, including grants and low interest loans, equates to more than 10 percent of total investment.

However, Planning and Investment Deputy Minister Dr Kikeo Chanthabouly sees graduation in a more positive light, saying that if Laos receives the new status, it should be able to more easily secure loans, with the new classification enhancing the country’s image and reputation.

He says that while Laos will receive less ODA, it will be able to take on more loans. Meanwhile, the World Bank has warned Laos that public debt has increased to levels that are no longer sustainable.

Public debt made up 70.5 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) last year, up from the 68.1 percent the year before.

Source: Vientiane Times, Lao Economic Daily