Reports and Publications


ESCAP produces a number of publications each year examining the breadth and implications of economic and social policy making in the Asia and Pacific region. The Countries with Special Needs Development Report is the annual flagship publication. Other analytical products such as working papers, policy briefs and information materials are available to download.


Asia-Pacific Countries with Special Needs Development Report 2019: Structural transformation and its role in reducing poverty

thumbnail_pic The 2019 report entitled “Structural transformation and its role in reducing poverty” examines the link between structural transformation and poverty reduction in countries with special needs. Increasing productive employment is critical to increase real wages and facilitate reduction in levels of poverty. The report puts forward relevant policy considerations to align structural transformation and poverty reduction, highlighting the importance of targeted industrial policies and rural development.

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CSN section brief

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Industrial policy for structural transformation to reduce poverty in LDCs, LLDCs an SIDS

thumbnail_pic Industrial policy is once again becoming a favoured tool to address countries’ development challenges. As the Asia-Pacific Countries with Special Needs Development Report: Structural Transformation and its Role in Reducing Poverty1 highlights, industrial policy is particularly relevant for effective structural economic transformation in least developed countries (LDCs), landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) and small island developing States (SIDS), a group collectively referred to as ‘countries with special needs’, and one that is characterised by various vulnerabilities and significant challenges to reduce poverty. Indeed, the report demonstrates that poverty cannot be reduced sustainably without productivity enhancing structural transformation. It also shows that structural transformation in Asia-Pacific LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS has been sluggish and thus the poverty reduction has been slow. Despite some evident successes, particularly in reducing extreme poverty, 2 out of 5 people still live for less than $3.20 a day in these economies, compared to 1 out of 15 among other developing countries of the Asia-Pacific region.

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Structural transformation in Asia's landlocked developing countries

thumbnail_pic Asia’s landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) are a heterogeneous group that differ in various dimensions, including development needs. For instance, some countries have transformed from a centrally-planned, state-command model to a market based one; many are resource dependent and have very concentrated production structures; four of them belong to the group of least developed countries (LDCs). Asia-Pacific Countries with Special Needs Development Report: Structural Transformation and its Role in Reducing Poverty provides an in-depth analysis on policy options for LLDCs. It highlights that for resource-based economies the process must involve economic diversification away from extractive industries, as the natural resource dependence exposes them to external shocks and macroeconomic imbalances; in least developed landlocked countries a shift of employment from agriculture to manufacturing must take place to increase productivity and reduce poverty. Industrialization is of paramount importance as a thriving labour-intensive manufacturing base is best at generating productive employment. More productive employment means higher remuneration, which in turns means less poverty. In some particular cases, the shift from agriculture to services might indeed be the only direction possible, if factors such as small size of an economy, limit opportunities to develop a manufacturing base. In general, this process however should be discouraged, as it inhibits the creation of productive jobs and slows the pace of poverty reduction. This is because employment in the manufacturing sector can be several times more productive than in services, particularly informal services. Hence the shift towards manufacturing allows for greater reduction in poverty.

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Structural transformation, backward and forward linkages and job creation in Asia-Pacific least developed countries

thumbnail_pic Structural transformation can influence employment creation and poverty reduction through direct and indirect channels. For instance, productivity growth in one sector stimulates employment and wage growth in that sector. It can also impact other sectors through increased demand for labour with similar skill profiles. Higher output in one sector can further spillover to other sectors through increased input demand from other sectors through production linkages thereby increasing incomes. The benefit of such spillovers will be limited if the growing sector does not have strong backward and forward production linkages with other sectors. However, it is not clear whether Asia-Pacific LDCs have been able to harness the potential backward and forward linkages between sectors to the extent that productivity growth in one sector indirectly stimulates demand for goods and services of other sectors. For a country to fully benefit from such indirect impacts, structural transformation should be accompanied by strong backward and forward linkages.

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Structural transformation in Asia-Pacific small island developing States

thumbnail_pic Asia-Pacific small island developing States (SIDS) face various challenges concerned with their structural economic transformation and indeed their overall development trajectory. The Asia-Pacific Countries with Special Needs Development Report: Structural Transformation and its Role in Reducing Poverty examines those development challenges and offers policy recommendations.

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LDC Graduation: Challenges and Opportunities for Vanuatu

thumbnail_pic Vanuatu will graduate from the least developed country (LDC) category on 4 December 2020. This will be a momentous occasion, heralding a new era in the nation’s development journey. However, it will be essential to carefully manage the transition leading up to, and following graduation. A smooth transition will be dependent on improving institutional and productive capacity; providing the stimulus for the private sector to flourish; ensuring inclusive, culturally sensitive development; and working to mitigate the country’s deep-seated vulnerabilities.

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Preparing to graduate: Issues, challenges and strategies for Kiribati's LDC graduation

thumbnail_pic This paper outlines the recent development trajectory of Kiribati in relation to the least developed country (LDC) categorisation and the prospect of Kiribati’s graduation out of LDC status. In particular, the paper discusses the economic vulnerability of Kiribati’s economic and fiscal position due to recent increases in fishing license revenue, and presents a framework for policies moving forward. The framework aims to mitigate the fishery revenue as a source of risk by (1) making the most of current resources (through public financial management reform and prudent fiscal management), (2) ensure the sustainability of the key resource (protect fish stocks), and (3) create an environment for new opportunities through establishing the precursors to tourism-orientated development (through deregulation and investment in public infrastructure). More broadly, the paper advocates for a risk-averse approach to policymaking in Kiribati through broad-based improvements in public financial architecture and investment rather than targeting higher-level interventions.

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