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"[A]id alone is not development. Development is helping nations to actually develop—moving from poverty to prosperity. And we need more than just aid to unleash that change. We need to harness all the tools at our disposal-from our diplomacy to our trade and investment policies."

President Barack Obama at the United Nations, September 22, 2010

Here are the numbers on U.S. trade with the poorest and most vulnerable countries in the world (from the U.S. International Trade Commission database), designated by the United Nations as least developed:

See that tiny little wedge at the bottom? That’s the LDCs and please note the average U.S. tariff on imports from those countries is roughly four times what it is for most countries in the world, except China (at the top).

And here’s what happened last week at the Fourth UN Conference on LDCS in Istanbul, according to the International Center for Trade and Sustainable Development

"Trade proved to be the most controversial issue of the negotiations…..The EU, along with Canada, Australia and New Zealand (collectively dubbed CANZ) expressed support for giving LDCs unrestricted market access (as they already do for most products), and urged all countries to do so. Prior to the conference, there had been hopes that the US and Japan, both of which still maintain significant trade barriers on exports from many LDCs, would announce new concessions… [b]ut no such promises were made by the two industrialised countries during the talks in Istanbul."

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CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD does not take institutional positions.