Based largely on the experiences of African countries, the least developed country (LDC) category was created as a recognition that certain countries face particularly serious obstacles to achieving the structural transformation needed to advance economically and socially. Most non-LDC developing countries (the great majority) still receive aid, but graduation should mark the point at which an LDC has developed sufficiently to no longer require the maximum concessionary treatment from development partners and use of LDC International Support Measures (ISMs). Only five countries have graduated from the category to date (Botswana, Cabo Verde, Maldives, Samoa, and Equatorial Guinea). The Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA) includes the target that half of LDCs should satisfy the criteria to graduate from the category by 2020 – an ambitious goal, given that only 10 of 52 have graduated or are scheduled to graduate as at December 2018.
While Samoa has graduated, four other Pacific island countries (Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Kiribati and Tuvalu) are still LDCs. All four are facing the prospect of graduation.
This is the first blog in a series that explores this issue, and its implications for the Pacific, with a special focus on Kiribati.