| September 22, 2020

'Trade in services offer great opportunity for sustainable growth in least developed countries'

KATHMANDU, Oct 5: Tourism, business process outsourcing (BPO), cultural services, and transport and logistics offer tremendous opportunities for Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to achieve sustainable growth, according to Ratnakar Adhikari, executive director of the Executive Secretariat for Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF).

Speaking in a panel discussion at the WTO Public Forum on ways to make services trade work for LDCs and Lower-Middle Income Countries (LICs), organized by CUTS International, ILEAP and the University of Sussex, on Sunday, he highlighted the importance of services trade.
Adhikari also noted that services are particularly important for landlocked LDCs, because goods trade is more difficult for them.

As the only global Aid for Trade program designed exclusively for LDCs, EIF is uniquely placed to assist countries to develop and implement sustainable trade in services strategies.

Every country participating in the EIF program undergoes an analytical study which allows countries to identify potential growth areas, constraints and priorities. The analytical covers a wide range of issues which directly impact on services, including governance; economic performance, investment and competitiveness; employment and human capital; poverty reduction and social inclusion; and sustainability issues.

Adhikari also emphasized the potential of tourism which is currently the most important services sector for LDCs. Preliminary findings from a joint EIF/UNWTO study show that 42 out of 47 EIF Countries, which have completed an EIF analytical study, identify tourism as one of their priority sectors for development. As a result, the EIF has been supporting priority tourism projects since 2011 in Burundi, Cambodia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

Commenting on his recent visit to Vanuatu, Adhikari explained how EIF support to the tourism infrastructure projects will contribute to an estimated 36 percent increase in tourist arrivals by 2017, which will, in turn, benefit 11,000 women working in Vanuatu's handicraft sector.

The potential of services trade for LDCs extends well beyond tourism, and diagnostic tools and financial support need to be diversified across niche sectors. Adhikari gave the examples of Cabo Verde, which is pursuing a development model that emphasizes the creative economy, and in particular its music industry; Uganda, which has identified the education sector; and Nepal, which has identified the health and education sectors as key growth areas.

"Services will be a major focus of our activities during Phase Two of EIF which will begin on January 1, 2016", Adhikari said, adding that EIF will support countries based on their priorities with the goal of building their human capital and helping them overcome their infrastructural bottlenecks, among others, for unlocking their services trade potential.