456. We would like to thank you for the update on the consultations that were held with the LDCs. We also thank Chad and Bangladesh for the presentations that were made, further explaining the rationale for the extended transition periods, envisaged under Article 66.1 of the TRIPS Agreement, for LDC Members. South Africa in the past has indicated that it unequivocally supports the request by the LDC Group under Article 66.1, for as long as they remain LDCs and for an additional 12-year period following their official graduation from the LDC category as determined by the United Nations General Assembly.
457. Article 66.1 recognizes LDCs' special needs and requirements, the economic, financial and administrative constraints faced by LDCs, and the need for flexibility to create a sound and viable technological base. An estimated 1.06 billion people live in the world's 47 LDCs and by 2030 over 15% of humanity will be living in them. Despite their large demographic weight, LDCs account for less than 1.5% of the global GDP, and as rightly pointed out by the distinguished delegate from Bangladesh, around 1% of world trade.
458. It is in this light that we have to consider the United Nation's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and this hinges on the international community's commitment to leave no one behind. Even before the current COVID-19 crisis, there were signs that many LDCs would neither meet the ambitious SDG targets nor achieve their own national development plans.
459. The adverse economic impact of the present COVID-19 crisis has severely affected the progress of growth and development of LDCs, which is also likely to delay or extend our graduation processes of several LDCs. The combination of the health, human, economic and social aspects of the present crisis dramatically highlights the vulnerability of LDC economies to shocks beyond their control. They will result in sharp setbacks in progress towards growth and development of LDCs.
460. At this point of heightened uncertainty, LDCs need special development support more than ever. Therefore South Africa, based on the duly motivated request as put forward by Chad and Bangladesh on behalf of the LDCs, would be in full support of granting this request for the extension under Article 66.1 for as long as a country remains in LDC, plus an additional 12 years after that particular events occurs.