LDC III Conference: Rescue boat for Yemen? [Archives:2001/22/Business & Economy]

May 28 2001

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Nadia Al-Saqqaf
Yemen Times
The Least Developed Countries (LDC) 3rd conference, held at the premises of the European Parliament (EP) in Brussels, concluded last Sunday.
Thousands of people from different places and organizations gathered at the EP building between the 14th to the 20th of May, each playing a significant role for the success of the LDC III conference. Not only governmental officials and NGOs but for the first time the business sector was included as well.
Among the three journalists who participated from Yemen was Nadia Alsaqqaf of the Yemen Times. She was invited by the Friedrich Ebert German Foundation to attend the conference which takes place every ten years.
What are the LDCs?
Since 1971, the United Nations has designated “Least Developed Countries”, a category of States ( presently 49) that are deemed structurally handicapped in their development process, and in need of the highest degree of consideration from the international community in support of their development efforts. In view of the socio-economic backwardness of the LDCs, the UN accords these states especially favorable treatment in allocation of resources under its relevant co-operation programs. At the same time, the organization gives a strong signal to other development partners of the LDCs by periodically identifying these countries and highlighting their structural problems, thereby pointing to the need for special concessions in their favor. Especially, in the area of development, finance and in the multilateral trade framework.
In its latest triennial review of the list of Least Developed Countries in 2000, the Economic and Social Council of the UN used the following three criteria for determining the new list, as proposed by the Committee for Development Policy:
* A low-income criterion, based on a three year average estimate of the gross domestic product per capita (under $ 900 for inclusion, above $1, 035 for graduation);
* A human resource weakness criterion, involving a composite Augmented Physical Quality of Life Index (APQLI) based on indicators of: (a) nutrition; (b) health; (c) education; and (d) adult literacy; and
* An economic vulnerability criterion, involving a composite Economic Vulnerability Index (EVI) based on indicators of (a) the instability of agricultural production; (b) the instability of export of goods and services; (c) the economic importance of non-traditional activities (share of manufacturing and modern services in GDP); (d) merchandise export concentration; and (e) the handicap of economic smallness ( as measured through the population logarithm).
EU- Determined to Deliver:
“This conference, – as Mr. Prodi President of the European Commission stated in his speech at the opening ceremony, comes at a crucial time for world development. Globalization and new technologies have become driving forces for global change. As a result, life has improved but the gap between the rich and poor nations is widening dramatically. In particular, the least developed countries (the LDCs) have so far been unable to benefit from these changes. Hunger, environmental degradation, spread of diseases and large-scale migration remain and are becoming worse. These problems are complex and interrelated. But at their root lies the cancer of poverty, a cancer that urgently needs to be removed. The European Community (EC), the European Union (EU) member states, the World Trade Organization (WTO) and of course the United Nations (UN) are fully aware of their responsibility towards the LDCs and hence the organization of this conference. They all have given the program their full endorsement.”As to why he thinks this conference has potential to be a truly landmark event he said:
“Because it brings together not only UN agencies, donor states and LDCs, but also representatives of civil society, including NGOs and the private sector.”
The Conference:
With the number of LDCs almost doubling from 25 in 1971 to 49 now, as a result of the economically decreasing share of the global trade and falling prices on raw materials on one hand, and war or natural disasters on the other the duty of the developed world and hence the conference has become more crucial and certainly not an easy one. The host institution: Communate Europeenne headed by H.E. Mr. Goran Persson Prime Minister of Sweden, President of European Commission Mr. Romano Prodi, President of European Parliament and Mrs. Nicole Fontaine president, United Nations general secretary Mr. Kofi Annan, along with many other international communities and organizations did an splendid job in the organization of the conference.
The program started with the inaugural ceremony on the morning of the 14th, followed by discussions on the challenges of Eradicating Poverty, and then an interactive session on Governance, Peace and Social Stability. The second day focused mainly on two topics: Enhancing Productive Capacities, the Agriculture Sector and Food Security and Intellectual Property and Development: an Investment for Wealth Creation. On the second and third day the meeting of City Mayors took place concurrently in which city-to-city co-operation was discussed. The third day concentrated on Health and Education, along with the issue of Migration and Refugees. Fourth day discussed International Trade, Commodities and Services/ Tourism, as well as the issue of Energy. Young Entrepreneurs round-tables were full with Young Entrepreneurs from all over the world adding a business touch to the conference. An interesting sidelight was the fact that Yemen had two of its Female Entrepreneurs, Mrs. Mahasen Munaibari, and Mrs. Najat Gumman present with others. The Fifth day was devoted to a discussion on Enhancing Productive Capacities, the Role of Investment & Enterprise Development, and Human Resources Development & Employment Interactive Thematic Sessions. Simultaneously Digital Economy discussions took place as a parallel event on the same day. Friday was earmarked to deliberate about Infrastructure Development and Transport. Music got its share that day as the Youth Forum took up Music in the LDCs, and appropriately in the backdrop of music, The deliberations of Women Entrepreneurs Forum proceeded on that day as well. Finally, the last day discussed Financing Growth and Development, continued the Young Entrepreneurs interactive sessions and concluded with the Adoption of the Brussels Documents Closing Ceremony.
Several salient topics were discussed in the spacious premises of the parliament building. The Panel Meeting on Gender in LDCs was organized by the UNDP/UNCTAD, and Impact of HIV AIDS on Sustainable development by the UNFPA.
The Yemeni Delegation:
The Yemeni delegation consisted of 25 members (one of the biggest in number) was headed by H.E. Mr. Abdulrahman Mohammed Ali Othman, Minster of Industry and Trade.
Other official members of the delegation included:
– H.E. Mr. Hisham Sharaf Abdullah, Deputy Minister for Planning and Development for International corporation.
– H.E. Mr. Mohammed Said Al-Attar, Ambassador, Permanent Representative, Geneva
– H.E. Mr. Gazem Abdulkhalek Al Aghbari, Ambassador to the European Union, Brussels.
– Mr. Jallal Mohammed Moula, Director- General of International and Regional Organizations, Ministry of Planning.
– Mr. Najib Abdulquawi Hamim, Counselor of the Minister of Industry and Trade
– Mr. Saleh Mohammed said Al Attar, Head of the Promotion Sector in the General Investment Authority
– Mr. Jamal Al Rubaidi, Official in the Presidents office
– Mr. Ibrahim said Al Adoufi, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
– Mr. Abdulwahab Ali, Director of the Minister of Trade Office, Director of the General Investment Authority.
– Mr. Ibrahim Al Nahari, Director General, Financial External Relations
– Mr. Sultan al barakani, member of parliament
– Mr. Mohammed Abdu Said, Member of Parliament
– Mr. Nabil Basha, member of parliament.
– Mr. Ali Mohammed Said
– Mr. Quasem Alhada
– Mr. Mohammed Abdul Rahmman Bajarash
– Mrs. Mahassen Ali Abdou Munaibari, Business Women Organization
– Mr. Tarek Senan Aboulohoum
– Mr. Hamid Zaid
– Mrs. Fatima Qhatan.
– Mrs. Samar Mohammed Al Attar
– Mrs. ElMonzer
– Mr. Taha Alhaddadi
– Mr. Shafiq AlDalei
Seven of these failed to be present in the conference. On the Business Sector front 4 persons attended the program along with Mrs. Munaibari.
– Mr. Farook Al- Dhorafi, of Al Farook Institute from Culture, Education and Tourism sector.
– Mr. Ali Al Wafi, of the Yemen Fisheries and Marina from Fisheries and Marina sector.
– Mrs. Najat Gumman, of the Yemen Feed Company from the Food and Agriculture sector.
– Mr. Ibrahim Nawar, of Al Amar Company.
– Mr. Abdula Majir Ilezam, of the Farook Institute from Culture, Education and Tourism sector.
It is worth mentioning that Mr. Fadhle Al-Akel Secretary General of Federation of Workers Trade Union – Yemen, who was invited directly by the World Trade Union Organization in Brussels, was a very active representative for Yemen and had many negotiations with international organizations. He also participated in round tables when the official delegation was busy elsewhere.
The speech delivered by the Yemeni Delegation in Arabic at the main session of the conference gave a quick review of Yemen’s progress since the last LDC conference in 1990 in Paris. Since then, the most important event was the reunification of the two Yemens on the 22nd of May, 1990. From that time onwards the Yemeni government has taken on the responsibility of the promotion of democratic system, envisaged by the constitution adopted by the people. Yemen is one of the very few LDCs in which political parties are legally functioning and are encouraged by the political system itself. It was mentioned that 2 women won seats in the elections to the local councils carving their names among the many other pioneer women who have led the women’s development process in Yemen.
A second point which the presentation highlighted was the economic reform program mounted in 1995 which aimed at increasing the average income and decreasing the inflation Yemen has been suffering from. The program stated off in co-ordination with the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and a few donor countries.
Thirdly, the implementation of the first five-year plan (96-2000) was mentioned. This plan aimed at ensuring a comprehensive economic development registering improvement in employment education and health sectors and protection of natural and environmental resources of the country.
Now the second 5-year plan (2001-2005) aims at consolidating the previously mentioned objectives. It envisages an average economic growth of 6% yearly. With this action plan, the Poverty Reduction Strategy Project (PRSP) with the WB and the IMF, and simultaneously the UNDAF agreement which Yemen has been working on indicate serious efforts to achieve a major breakthrough in the development process.
Among the many obstacles the country is facing, the presentation focused on the following 6 main draw backs which need to be urgently tackled.
1) Poverty; more than one third of the population suffers from it.
2) Depletion of water and natural resources.
3) Poor education and health standards especially for girls.
4) Enormous birth rate.
5) Lack of progress in technology
6) Inability to join the world economy and to participate in the global market.
To conclude, the paper suggested 3 measures that would help in this process of revitalization of the economy: a) Continuous co-operation between the donors and the receivers in order to bring view points closer.
b) Support for the LDCs evaluation of their problems and their plans or methods for tackling them.
c) Facilitating and accelerating the process of integrating the country into the global market.
Yemen Times has met with the members of the Yemeni delegation members and other business people who were present at the conference in order to share their experiences, expectations and action plans. A full report on this will be published next week.
Friedrich Ebert Stiftung
The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, the oldest political foundation in Germany, established in 1925, is a private, public-interest institution wedded to the ideas of Social Democracy. It is named after the first democratically elected German President, Friedrich Ebert, and carries on his legacy of achieving freedom, solidarity and social justice. The foundation fulfils this mission both within the country and abroad through its programs of political education, international co-operation, scholarships and research programs.
The Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) foundation spends roughly half of its total annual budget on international development and co-operation (IEZ) jointly with partners from the political and cultural sphere, the trade unions, industry, science, and the media.
In all areas in which IEZ is working, it actively supports anti-discriminatory measures for the benefit of women, recognition of their contribution and striving to create gender parity.
The foundation also takes up educational issues, food and poverty alleviation issues as well. It has branch offices in many countries and has a number of publications in several topics, and languages.
For more details, contact
Division for International Development Co-operation
Godesberger Allee 149
53170 Bonn
Tel. (0049-228) 8830
fax (0049-228) 88 3600
or check the web site