The LDC Group, including Bangladesh, has requested the sub-committee on least developed countries, for presenting its proposal before the WTO's General Council for continuation of all support measures, including unilateral trade preferences, for 12 years even after graduation.
It has also suggested phasing out the facilities step by step.
In December 2020, the LDC group sent the same proposal to the WTO for a formal smooth transition procedure.
Hafizur Rahman, additional secretary to the commerce ministry and director general of the WTO cell, told The Business Standard that the proposal was sent to the sub-committee on LDCs as per the decision made by the LDC Group.
They have requested the sub-committee to recommend that the LDC Group's proposals be implemented at the WTO Ministerial Conference to be held in December, he said.
The 12th Ministerial Conference will take place from 30 November to 3 December 2021 in Geneva, Switzerland. The conference is usually held every three years.
In the letter, the LDC Group also said with a limited amount of time available before the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference, it may, however, be difficult to achieve a final consensus on such a package by December 2021.
"Given the critical importance of this topic and the need to achieve concrete deliverables at the conference, the LDC Group is proposing an interim arrangement on smooth transition by calling on developed and developing countries granting LDCs unilateral trade preferences, to establish procedures for extending and gradually phasing out their preferential market access scheme for graduated countries over a period of 12 years," the letter read.
The draft decision also proposes that the sub-committee prepare a package of support measures in favour of the LDCs after their graduation and report to the General Council at its first meeting in 2023.
It clearly states that any support package must apply automatically, equally and unconditionally to all graduated LDCs for a uniform period of time after graduation, the LDC Group said.
According to commerce ministry information, since the creation of the LDC category in 1971, only six countries have managed to leave it. In recent years, the trend towards graduation has accelerated.
Some 16 countries now formally meet the LDC graduation criteria, four of them - Angola, Bhutan, São Tomé and Príncipe, and Solomon Islands - are already scheduled to leave the category by 2024.
Another five, including Bangladesh, Kiribati, Lao PDR, Nepal, and Tuvalu have been recommended for graduation by the Committee for Development Policy (CDP) and endorsed by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (Ecosoc).
Myanmar and Timor-Leste met the criteria for two or more consecutive times but the recommendation by the CDP has been deferred.
Finally, Cambodia, Comoros, Djibouti, Senegal, and Zambia have met the graduation criteria for the first time.
Besides those 16 countries, another 10 have already met one graduation criteria at the 2021 triennial review, bringing the number of countries on a firm path to graduation to 26, including 19 WTO members out of a total 35 WTO LDC members.