UN: Rethink Economic Approach for Least Developed Countries

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12 December, 2013

From VOA Learning English, this is the Economics Report.

A new United Nations report says the world's poorest countries should rethink their economic policies, because they are failing to create jobs for their citizens.

The U.N. Conference on Trade and Development is warning that current policies will not do a lot to reduce poverty, because so few jobs are being created.

The U.N. report warns of social unrest and growing numbers of immigrants if the employment situation in these countries does not improve.

Taffere Tesfachew is with the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development. He says a new way of thinking is needed. He says no one questions the need for economic growth. But that growth needs to create jobs.

"We are not questioning growth and growth matters very much, it is absolutely critical. Nobody is changing their views on the need for growth. But I think the question is - perhaps there is a way you grow and create employment, and there is a way you grow you do not create employment. The policies followed by many least developed countries and those especially which did not create employment while there is a need to create employment."

The World Bank and International Monetary Fund have called for economic stability and liberalization policies for poor and undeveloped countries. But these policies have failed to create many jobs, even during the period of economic expansion from 2002 to 2008. During that period, many least developed countries grew each year at rate of eight percent or more.

The United Nations has identified 49 "least developed countries." Thirty-four are in Africa, there are nine others in Asia, five in the Pacific and one in the Caribbean.

Almost all of these countries face rising numbers of men and women entering the labor market. By 2050, the number of young people seeking jobs is expected to rise to 300 million.

Taffere Tesfachew says countries should invest in labor-intensive industries such as manufacturing to create jobs for the millions of unemployed.

"We really believe that infrastructural transformation, countries that are moving, jumping from agriculture to services, bypassing manufacturing, I think they will have a problem. The manufacturing sector, the industrial sector, particularly manufacturing, is I think critical for countries with large population."

In the U.N. report, a country was considered a least developed when personal income is below $992 on a three-year average. The report also considered the economic problems each nation faced and its rating on the Human Assets Index. The Index measures issues like health, nutrition, school enrollment and literacy rates.

And that's the Economics Report for VOA Learning English.