Cooperation is vital to help Asia's least developed economies grow, a Chinese official said in Shanghai Friday.
Asia-Pacific countries need to enhance South-South and regional cooperation to help the economies of the least developed countries and reduce poverty, said Shen Guofang, deputy head of the Chinese delegation to the 60th Session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP).
"Developing countries are economically complementary to each other, they can work together pragmatically in trade, investment, infrastructure construction and technical assistance and exchanges," said Shen.
"Countries in the Asia-Pacific region should enrich and expand the content and manner of South-South cooperation between them," said Shen.
The discrepancy between the poor countries in the South and the rich in the North has been aggravated during the past decades as the globalization process expands.
UN statistics show that in the past 30 years, the number of least developed countries (LDCs) has grown from 25 to 51, with the number of people who live in extreme poverty rising from 138 million to 307 million.
In the Asia-Pacific region, the number of these most poor countries has more than doubled in the past three decades from six in 1971 to 14 now.
As those countries are left behind, the targets of the Millennium Development Goals become harder to meet, said Anwarul K. Chowdhury, the UN under-secretary-general.
"The international community, therefore, needs to make a determined effort to support these countries. A potential opportunity to do that, I believe, is through enhanced regional and South-South cooperation," said Chowdhury, who also serves as the UN high representative for the least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing states.
He listed a series of initiatives urged by the UN including opening more markets to help poor countries boost their export earnings, cancel debts, bring in increased investment and provide technical assistance.
China, as a developing country in the region that is facing many difficulties in its own economic development, has been working hard to provide financial and technical assistance to these countries, said Shen.
(China Daily April 24, 2004)