Recently, the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted the historic resolution on graduation of Bangladesh from the LDC category and with the adoption of this resolution, Bangladesh completes all the procedures to graduate from the LDC category.
This is a landmark achievement in Bangladesh’s development journey, which incidentally coincides with the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh’s independence and the birth centenary of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
It may be mentioned here that for a country to be eligible for graduation, the graduation threshold must be met for two of the three LDC identification criteria, which include per capita gross national income (GNI), the human assets index (HAI), and the economic vulnerability index (EVI).
Alternatively, eligibility is given if the per capita GNI is at least twice the amount of what the graduation threshold demands.
The graduation procedure is long-term, since the graduating country must meet eligibility criteria at two consecutive triennial reviews even as after the country has been found eligible for graduation for the first time, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) prepares an ex-ante impact assessment, and the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) prepares a vulnerability profile of that country, which serve as inputs to the decision-making process of the CDP and, before the next triennial review, the country is then invited to present its views on the possibility of graduation at the CDP expert group meeting and, as a next step, CDP recommends the country for graduation on the basis of the LDC criteria and the information provided by the country itself, UN/DESA and UNCTAD.
The recommendation is endorsed by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and finally acknowledged by the General Assembly.
The graduation takes effect three years after the decision by the General Assembly.
Meanwhile, speaking after the adoption of this landmark resolution, the Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the United Nations, Ambassador Rabab Fatima thanked all the member states, especially the development partners, for their support to reach consensus for the adoption of this resolution.
“Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina envisioned to transform Bangladesh into a middle-income country by 2021 and a developed country by 2041.She has led us from the front in this exciting journey despite the unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic,” maintained Rabab Fatima while stressing the graduation of an LDC is not only a success of the country itself but also a testimony of the strength of multilateral partnership led by the UN.
“…graduation should not be a punishment; it should be a reward,” said Rabab Fatima even as she highlighted the importance of ensuring an incentives-based international support structure to graduating and graduated LDCs while also calling for tailored and clearly laid down roadmaps to address every aspect of graduation challenge, namely, post-graduation international support measures, smooth transition, Financing for SDGs implementation, etc.
She said that the upcoming 5th United Nations Conference on the LDCs (LDC5) to be held in Doha, Qatar provides the development partners with a good opportunity to come up with a transformative programme of action for the LDCs for the next decade even as the Draft Doha Programme of Action (DPOA) identified graduation as one of its priority areas and, it has set a target to enable 15 additional LDCs to meet the criteria for graduation by 2031 even if the success of this ambitious target will largely depend on enhanced support and solidarity from the development partners.
It may be mentioned here that though a matter of great pride as it signifies and represents significant socio-economic growth and development of a country, the LDC graduation comes with its own challenges, especially for Bangladesh’s apparel sector,considered the lifeline to the country’s economy, as apparel shipments will cease to enjoy duty benefits that it currently enjoys as an LDC even as experts suggested signing free trade agreements (FTAs) and preferential trade agreements (PTAs), in efforts to minimise the impact of the LDC transition on garment exports.
And if experts are to be believed, addressing the post transition bureaucratic challenges is a major issue even as businesspeople and pundits called for simplifying the ease of doing business and removing the existing bureaucratic bottlenecks to cope with the challenges Bangladesh might face in its post-LDC graduation era even as they stressed on the need for signing bilateral, regional and free-trade agreements to attract more investment and enhance trade with the countries where preferential market access would come to an end with the country’s graduation.
Participating at a recent event, former FBCCI President Abdul Awal Mintoo said bureaucratic tangles are challenges for the post-graduation period while underlining bureaucracy doesn’t go in line with the graduation process of the country even as Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Country Representative Yuji Ando suggested simplifying administrative procedures to help ease of doing business and ensure a business-friendly climate in the country.
Bangladesh currently enjoys a GSP facility in Japan. In this regard, he said, “Signing FTA could be a great choice to expand trade and business between Bangladesh and Japan,” while underlining once an FTA is signed between Bangladesh and Japan, more investments might come into the country.
Earlier, at a roundtable, titled Preparedness for Smooth and Sustainable LDC Graduation, speakers said necessary policy reforms were crucial for Bangladesh’s smooth graduation from a least developed country (LDC) to a developing one even as Head of Prosperity and Economic Growth Team, Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) at British High Commission, Mahesh Mishra, on his part underlined Bangladesh should not look into only duty-free market access rather it should think of what the country could offer to the rest of the world even as Director at the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), Abdullah Hill Rakib, said they were engaged in trade diplomacy and exploration of new markets in the Middle East and Asia, keeping in mind the challenges after the LDC graduation.Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) Research Director Dr Khondaker Golam Moazzem said Bangladesh should come out from the preferential market access to competitive competence while also underscoring the importance of signing bi-lateral and regional agreements even as he suggested ensuring labour and environmental compliances in all industrial sectors.
“Following low-hanging reforms, right now we need to move to the second generation of reform which will lift the country and shift its gear to where it wants to go,”stated World Bank Group’s Country Director for Bangladesh and Bhutan Mercy Miyang Tembon underlining the significance of addressing the existing bureaucratic challenges while embracing the much-needed policy reforms to ensure smooth LDC transition and proper growth and development thereafter, to wind up on a positive note.