To deal with the constraints facing landlocked countries, the International Ministerial Conference of Landlocked and Transit Developing Countries and Donor Countries and International Financial and Development Institutions on Transit Transport Cooperation was held in Almaty, Kazakhstan, from 25-29 August 2003. It was the first of its kind and it provided the international community with a unique opportunity to galvanize international solidarity and partnership to assist landlocked developing countries to effectively participate in the international trading system, through, among other things, establishing transit systems. At its successful conclusions, the Ministerial Conference adopted the Almaty Programme of Action: Addresssing the Special Needs of Landlocked Developing Countries within a New Global Framework For Transit Transport Cooperation for Landlocked and Transit Developing Countries and the Almaty Ministerial Declaration. The UN-OHRLLS prepared the Roadmap for the implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action, which was endorsed at the inter-agency meeting convened on 4 February 2004.

The Almaty Declaration and Programme of Action reflected the strong commitment of the international community to addressing the special needs and problems of landlocked developing countries as called for in the United Nations Millennium Declaration. The overarching goal of the Almaty Programme of Action is to forge partnerships to overcome the specific problems of the landlocked developing countries that result from their lack of territorial access to the sea and their remoteness and isolation from world markets. That situation has contributed to their relative poverty, substantially inflating transportation costs and lowering their effective participation in international trade.

The objective of the Almaty Programme of Action is to establish a new global framework for developing efficient transit transport systems in landlocked and transit developing countries, taking into account the interests of both landlocked and transit developing countries. The Programme aims to (a) secure access to and from the sea by all means of transport; (b) reduce costs and improve services so as to increase the competitiveness of their exports; (c) reduce the delivered costs of imports; (d) address problems of delays and uncertainties in trade routes; (e) develop adequate national networks; (f) reduce loss, damage and deterioration enroute; (g) open the way for export expansion; and (h) improve the safety of road transport and the security of people along the corridors.

The main innovative feature of the Almaty Programme of Action is the focus on action-oriented specific measures to be undertaken by both landlocked and transit developing countries with the support of their development partners, the implementation of which would be measurable and feasible.

Five Priorities in the Almaty Programme of Action
•  Policy Improvements – reducing customs bureaucracy and fees, designed to cut costs and travel days for landlocked countries’ exports.
•  Improved rail, road, air and pipeline infra-structure – projects will reflect local transport modes; in Africa, road is the predominant mode of transport; in South Asia, rail is more common.
•  International trade measures – to give preferential treatment to landlocked countries’ goods, making them more competitive.
•  Technical and financial international assistance – donor countries will lend know-how and money to landlocked and transit countries for infrastructure and policy improvements.
•  Monitoring and follow-up on agreements -measurable criteria, such as travel days and costs, will be used, and an annual review before the General Assembly is possible.