Developed and developing countries

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1. General definitions

Term Developed countries

Definition Countries with high levels of real national income per head and relatively large tertiary sectors.

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Term Developing countries

Definition Countries with low levels of real national income per head and relatively large primary sectors.

Term Less Developed Countries

Definition Countries who are generally characterized by low levels of GDP and income per head. They usually have a heavy dependence on the primary sector of the economy. In the case of many developed countries this is true with dependence on agriculture and primary products.

Term Least Developed Countries

Definition The very poorest of the Less Developed Countries.

. Who are considered the developed and developing countries in the international market?

According to the World Trade Organization (WTO), there are no definitions of “developed” and “developing” countries. Members announce for themselves whether they are “developed” or “developing” countries. However, other members can challenge the decision of a member to make use of provisions available to developing countries.

What are the advantages of “developing country” status?

Developing country status in the WTO brings certain rights. There are for example provisions in some WTO Agreements, which provide developing countries with longer transition periods before they are required to fully implement the agreement and developing countries can receive technical assistance. That a WTO member announces itself as a developing country does not automatically mean that it will benefit from the unilateral preference schemes of some of the developed country members such as the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP). In practice, it is the preference giving country that decides the list of developing countries that will benefit from the preferences.

The WTO Agreements contain special provisions which give developing countries special rights and which give developed countries the possibility to treat developing countries more favorably than other WTO Members. These special provisions include, for example, longer time periods for implementing Agreements and commitments or measures to increase trading opportunities for developing countries.

These provisions are referred to as special and differential treatment provisions.

The special provisions include

· longer time periods for implementing Agreements and commitments,

· measures to increase trading opportunities for these countries,

· provisions requiring all WTO members to safeguard the trade interests of developing countries,

· support to help developing countries build the infrastructure for WTO work, handle disputes, and implement technical standards, and

· provisions related to Least-Developed country (LDC) Members.

About 100 of the WTO’s over 140 members are developing countries. They are expected to play an increasingly important role in the WTO because of their numbers and because they are becoming more important in the global economy.

. What are the least developed countries?

The least developed countries (LDCs) are a group of 4 countries that have been identified by the UN as least developed in terms of their low GDP per capita, their weak human assets and their high degree of economic vulnerability. The list is reviewed every three years by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

The criteria underlying the current list of LDCs are

a. a low income, as measured by the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita;

b. weak human resources, as measured by a composite index (Augmented Physical Quality of Life Index) based on indicators of life expectancy at birth, per capita calorie intake, combined primary and secondary school enrolment, and adult literacy;

c. a low level of economic diversification, as measured by a composite index (Economic Diversification Index) based on the share of manufacturing in GDP, the share of the labour force in industry, annual per capita commercial energy consumption, and UNCTADs merchandise export concentration index.

Different thresholds are used for inclusion in, and graduation from, the list. A country qualifies to be added to the list of LDCs if it meets inclusion thresholds on all three criteria. A country qualifies for graduation from the list if it meets graduation thresholds on two of the three criteria. For the low-income criterion, the threshold on which inclusion in the current list is based has been a GDP per capita of $800, and the threshold for graduation has been a GDP per capita of $00. In its July 000 review, in the light of recommendations by the Committee for Development Policy, ECOSOC declared the eligibility of Senegal for designation as an LDC (subject to the Government so desiring) and decided to postpone until 001 its consideration of Maldives graduation.

The criteria for determining the list of LDCs are under review. The Committee for Development Policy has recommended that the Economic Diversification Index be replaced by an Economic Vulnerability Index reflecting the main external shocks to which many low-income countries are subject, and incorporating the main structural elements of the countries exposure to the shocks, including their smallness and lack of diversification.

The extreme poverty is pervasive and persistent in most LDCs, and that the incidence of extreme poverty is highest in those LDCs that are dependent on primary commodity exports. The incidence of poverty is so high because most of the LDCs are caught in an international poverty trap. Pervasive poverty within LDCs has effects at the national level that cause poverty to persist and even to increase, and international trade and finance relationships are reinforcing the cycle of economic stagnation and poverty. The current form of globalization is tightening the poverty trap. With improved national and international policies, LDCs can escape the poverty trap. There is a major, but currently underestimated, opportunity for rapid reduction in extreme poverty in the LDCs through sustained economic growth. However, the new Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs), which are currently the focus of national and international efforts to reduce poverty in poor countries, are not grasping that opportunity. Effective poverty reduction in the LDCs needs a more supportive international environment. This should include increased and more effective aid and debt relief, a review and recasting of international commodity policy, and policies that recognize the interdependence between the socio-economic marginalization of the poorest countries and the increasing polarization of the global economy.

4. Conclusion

Generally, the categories of developed, developing and least developed countries are based on the GDP per capita and the level of economic vulnerability of the countries. All countries acknowledge the role played by international trade in economic growth and development. For the developing countries, experience has shown that those, which aim at expanding their exports and adopting adequate and consistent national policies, succeed in their economic objectives. They have been fully integrated into the changing world economy and are in a position to face the technological challenges. This does not apply to least developed countries, which suffer an extreme poverty that limits their economic growth.

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