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The Least Developed Countries Report 2004 assesses the relationship between international trade and poverty within the LDCs, and identifies national and international policies that can make trade a more effective mechanism for poverty reduction in these countries.
The Report argues that international trade can play a major positive role in reducing poverty in the LDCs. However, in practice, this is not happening in many of them. In some, this failure is due to a weak trade performance, but most LDCs achieved higher export growth in the 1990s than in the 1980s. The failure of trade expansion to allow poverty reduction has been related to weak linkages between trade and economic growth. Moreover, there is a tendency for export expansion in economies with mass poverty and major financial gaps to generate exclusionary rather than socially equitable economic growth. Civil conflicts, in some LDCs, have been closely associated with impoverishing trade.

Table of contents
Press Information
Table of contents
What are the Least Developed Countries
Overview [PDF, 39pp., 389KB]
Part One: Recent Trends
Chapter 1: Recent Economic Trends [PDF, 24pp., 278KB]
A. Overall economic growth trends
B. Trends in external trade
C. Trends in external finance
D. Trends in external debt
E. ODA targets for donor countries
F. Conclusions

Annex to chapter 1: Analytical classification of LDCs in this Report
Chapter 2: Selected Recent Social Trends: Population Growth, Human Development Goals, the HIV/AIDS Epidemic [PDF, 23pp., 243KB]
A. Population growth, age structure and urbanization
B. Progress towards selected human development goals
C. The HIV/AIDS epidemic
D. Conclusions
Annex 1: Progress towards achievement of selected Millennium
 Development Goals in LDCs
Annex 2: Progress towards graduation from LDC status

Chapter 3: Selected Recent Policy Trends: Accession of LDCs to the WTO [PDF, 17pp., 193KB] Introduction
B. The challenge of accession
C. Three country cases
D. Comparative assessment amongst the accession countries
E. Comparison with current WTO member States
F. Conclusions
Part Two
Linking International Trade with Poverty Reduction

Chapter 1
Trade and Poverty from a Development Perspective
 [PDF, 31pp., 315KB]
A. Introduction
B. Trade, trade liberalization and poverty: Where do we stand?
C. The limits of the current approach to analysing the trade-poverty relationship
D. A development approach to the trade-poverty relationship E. Policy implications of the development approach
F. Conclusions
Chapter 2
The Potential Role of International Trade in Poverty Reduction in the LDCs
 [PDF, 27pp., 304KB]
A. Introduction
B. The importance of sustained economic growth for poverty reduction in the LDCs
C. The importance of trade expansion for sustained economic growth
D. Export expansion and the inclusiveness of economic growth
E. Conclusions
Chapter 3: How the Trade-Poverty Relationship Works in Practice [PDF, 39pp., 450KB] 
A. Introduction
B. Export structure, trade performance and the international poverty trap
C. The frequency of export expansion with poverty reduction
D. The trade-growth relationship
E. Trade expansion, domestic resource mobilization and the form of economic growth
F. Conclusions
Chapter 4: Civil Conflict and the Trade-Poverty Relationship [PDF, 18pp., 223KB]
A. Introduction
B. An overview of trade in civil conflict in LDCs and other developing countries
C. Low income and economic regression as economic determinants of civil conflicts
D. Civil conflicts by type of export specialization
E. Trade and poverty during civil conflict episodes
F. Conclusions
Chapter 5: Trade Liberalization and Poverty Reduction in the LDCs [PDF, 40pp., 456KB]
A. Introduction
B. The depth and extend of trade liberalization
C. The sequencing, timing and speed of trade liberalization
D. The short-term impact of trade liberalization on poverty
E. Prospects for substantial poverty reduction after trade liberalization: Sustainability of economic growth
F. Prospects for substantial poverty reduction after trade liberalization: Inclusiveness of economic growth
Chapter 6 : Improving the Trade-Poverty Relationship through the International Trade Regime [PDF, 52pp., 382KB]
A. Introduction
B. The poverty-reducing impact of multilateral trade liberalization
C. The importance of generally applicable measures beyond trade liberalization
D. The effectiveness of current international support measures targeted at the LDCs
E. Strengthening international support measures targeted at the LDCs
F. Enhanced South-South cooperation in the field of trade
G. Conclusions
Chapter 7: Improving the Trade-Poverty Relationship Through National Development Strategies [PDF, 45pp., 367KB]
A. Introduction
B. Trade in Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs): Recent country experience
C. Mainstreaming development into poverty reduction strategies
D. Mainstreaming trade in development-oriented poverty reduction strategies
E. How donors can support trade capacity development
F. Conclusions
Annex to chapter 7: Alternative post-liberal development strategies
Statistical Annex:
Basic Data on the Least Developed Countries
 [Pdf, 49pp.,392KB]
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