49 countries of the world are currently designated as “least developed ” by the General Assembly of the United Nations. The combined population of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) is 637.4 million. This amounts to 13.4 % of the total population of all developing countries. Their average GDP per capita is 288 USD, or less than a dollar a day (UNCTAD 2002). The LDCs ’ share of world trade has declined from 0.8 % in 1980 to less than 0.5 % today (WTO 1997). They have also had much Rune Jansen Hagen*, Ottar Mæstad * and Arne Wiig** Assessing the Economic Gains of Free Market Access for th
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