Vientiane, 11 October 2021: Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) in partnership with the United Nations Resident Coordinator’s Office (UNRCO), jointly organized the virtual 13th High-Level Roundtable Meeting Side Event: Least Developed Country Graduation: Toward a Smooth Transition Strategy (STS). The meeting was co-chaired by H.E Mr. Phoxay KHAYKHAMPHITHOUNE, Deputy-Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Ms. Sara SEKKENES, United Nations Resident Coordinator to the Lao PDR. The meeting was attended by more than 120 participants from Government sectors, namely line ministries and ministry-equivalent organizations, development partners, UN agencies, international non-governmental and civil society organizations, and other relevant stakeholders.
On this occasion, H.E Mr. Phoxay KHAYKHAMPHITHOUNE, Deputy-Minister of Foreign Affairs stressed the importance of developing an STS to prepare for the Lao PDR’s graduation from LDC status, in the follow up to the triennial review by the Committee Development Policy (CDP) early this year, which resulted in the recommendation for Lao PDR granted an extended 5-year preparatory period, setting the official anticipated graduation to take place in 2026. Nevertheless, under the challenging circumstances of the ongoing global health crisis of COVID-19 pandemic, its multi-dimensional impacts have threatened to revert hard-earned progress on socio-economic development over the last decades and further increased our country’s existing vulnerability, something that may make the ambition extra challenging to achieve.
Against this backdrop, the Deputy urged that all sectors and stakeholders prepare their readiness, particularly in those key sectors corresponding to the three criteria for LDC graduation which amongst others include the necessary investments needed in human capital, taking into account the recovery effort from the COVID-19 pandemic. Adding to this, the Deputy Minister said that all these efforts must be in collaboration with development partners to ensure that any specific impacts resulting from loss of international support measures for LDCs will not constraint the country’s development momentum, ensuring the utilization of special support measures, with the aims for Lao PDR to graduate from the LDC country in a smooth and sustainable manner.
Moreover, H.E Deputy Minister also mentioned that the deliberation from this side-event is an opportunity to contribute to the High-level Round Table Meeting (RTM) to inform and sensitize policy and decision makers across government as well as development partners to the advantages and opportunities from the LDC graduation, and thinking beyond the RTM, it will feed into the preparation for Lao PDR to participate in the 5th High-Level UN Conference on LDC in January 2022 in Qatar, which will present a crucial opportunity for Lao PDR to showcase its progress in developing the smooth transition strategy and mobilize support and cooperation from the international community during the preparatory period until and beyond the transition period in 2026.
On the same note, Ms. Sara SEKKENES, United Nations Resident Coordinator to the Lao PDR also stressed the importance of the Doha LDC5 conference as an opportunity to prepare for the conditions needed for a smooth transition, as well as advocating for necessary graduation support amongst the international community. Ms. Sekkenes emphasized that becoming an upper middle-income country with a less vulnerable economy, stronger human assets and a climbing GDP can provide the engine to propel the country into delivering a sustainable development for all that truly leaves no one behind. She continued by underlining the importance of today’s meeting for Lao PDR’s LDC graduation planning process, noting that it will allow national decision makers and development partners to be fully aware of the anticipated changes, challenges and opportunities that could come from LDC graduation.
During the meeting, the Department of International Organization, Ministry of Foreign Affairs shared with participants the approach of developing a Smooth Transition Strategy, setting out how, in accordance to its Guidance Note, the strategy will be formulated through necessary consultative mechanisms. In addition, the meeting also shared a Summary on LDC Graduation for Lao PDR, with in-depth information on the expected implications of graduation across the areas, namely on trade, development cooperation, and other dimensions, as well as the most important vulnerabilities as identified by relevant UN offices. At the end of the meeting, participants joined the discussion, seeking clarifications, sharing additional inputs, and making suggestions on plans in contribution to the development of the Smooth Transition Strategy, which will be further gathered and carried on to the presentation at the 13th High-level RTM.
The event is a part of the preparations for the HL-RTM and the MPI-MoFA Programme with the objective to contribute to the NSEDP Implementation towards LDC Graduation, Middle-Income-Country Transition and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, with the generous support from the New Zealand Government, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and UNDP.