I. Assessment of current situation
1. Despite some progress in the implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action: Addressing the Special Needs and problems of Landlocked Developing Countries within a New Global Framework for Transit Transport Cooperation since its adoption in 2003 by the United Nations General Assembly, landlocked developing countries continue to face the particular problems linked to their geographical handicaps compounded with lack of adequate transit transport infrastructure and cumbersome procedures and regulations.
2. Although the difficulties of being landlocked permeate every aspect of the development process and poverty alleviation, their impact on the evolution of external trade is particularly severe. The additional transit transport costs, which landlocked countries must bear, constraint export development since this burden limits the range of potential exports and markets in which goods can be competitively and profitably traded. The price of imports tends to soar owing to high transport costs. High transport costs remain the single most important obstacle to their equitable access to global markets and competition with other countries and the main reason why landlocked developing countries continued to be marginalized from international trading system with the dismal share of world merchandise of goods.
3. Inadequate infrastructure in rail transport, road transport, ports, inland waterways, pipelines, air transport and information and communications technology, and missing links, few harmonized rules and procedures, little cross-border investment and private sector participation are major problems faced by landlocked developing countries. Efficient transport infrastructure and services are a vital prerequisite for the development of landlocked developing countries and their effective integration into the international trading system and the world economy. The deterioration of transport infrastructure is one of the main problems that affects both landlocked and transit developing countries. The broad use of information and communication technologies in the transit transport operations would greatly increase the efficiency of the existing transit facilities.
4. The preliminary data compiled by the UN-OHRLLS shows that there is a little improvement in transit transport infrastructure development in landlocked developing countries. The total road networks of landlocked developing countries constituted 1.04 million kilometers in 2004, up from about 974 thousands km in 2003, only about 40 per cent of the total road is being paved. The combined rail network of all landlocked developing countries is roughly 40,000 km. African, Asian railways networks are still not interconnected. Total air cargo of landlocked developing countries reached 351.3 million tons per km. The aircraft fleets of individual carriers in landlocked countries are small; the airlines’ networks are dispersed and aircraft utilization is low; costs are high. The links among subregions have been poor because of the lack of appropriate policy for regulating the air transport industry.
5. In terms of telecommunication infrastructure, on average in 2003, there were 5.1 main phone lines per 100 inhabitants for landlocked developing countries. These countries also lag behind in the application of the mobile technology, with an average of 6.8 mobile subscribers per 100 inhabitants in 2003. The growing digital divide is also a major concern whereas landlocked developing countries had 15.1 personal computers per 1000 inhabitants in 2003, while the world mean was 100.8.
6. Addressing the needs to develop reliable transit transport communications infrastructure requires considerable investment, setting up of public-private partnerships, capacity building, legal and regulatory reforms, institutional and administrative overhauls, including in-depth analysis of each landlocked country’s foreign trade composition and its transport constraints. Coordinating transport infrastructure in one country is already a huge task, doing it across borders is even more difficult.
II. Mobilization of financial resources for transit transport infrastructure development
7. As the transit transport infrastructure development which is the precondition for long-term growth National budgets need to give priority to transit transport infrastructure development, including necessary allocations for maintenance and rehabilitation.
8. The cost implications of meeting the requirements in establishing and maintaining efficient transit transport systems are of such a magnitude that landlocked and transit developing countries cannot accomplish such a formidable task on their own. With the low rate of return of infrastructure investment, international financial assistance continues to remain the major source for infrastructure development of landlocked developing countries to break the deadlock. There is welcome development that in 2005, total official development assistance (ODA) received by landlocked developing countries from OECD countries increased to USD 14.7. However, only about 3.7 per cent of the ODA was allocated to the transport, storage and communications infrastructure development down from 6.3 per cent in 2003. This is a major concern for to landlocked and transit developing countries.
9. The World Bank, the regional development banks and other multilateral financial and development institutions should provide greater financial assistance for development of transit transport infrastructure in landlocked and transit developing countries and the completion of missing links in the sub-regional and regional transport network that would connect landlocked developing countries with the rest of the region. Also, multilateral and bilateral institutions should redouble their efforts encourage public and private sector investment in the transit transport infrastructure development in landlocked developing countries through, inter alia, investment guarantee schemes.
10. Landlocked developing countries need innovative approaches to finance infrastructure and appropriate policies to encourage private participation to create a conducive environment to attract private sector participation in infrastructure development projects, particularly through public-private partnerships. Investment in infrastructure has accelerated in recent years, particularly in those countries that have taken bold measures in attracting FDI via privatization. There is considerable potential for private sector involvement in infrastructure development in LLDCs. Consideration should also be given to regional venture funds for infrastructure projects.
III. Sub-regional and regional cooperation for transit transport infrastructure development
11. Cooperation across borders with the transit country/ies is crucial for the establishment of efficient transit transport systems. Transits will be easier and less costly for both landlocked and transit countries if implemented in an integrated environment. Regional cooperation and integration involving landlocked and transit developing countries can be an asset through pooling limited resources and achieving needed economies of scale. Two points require particular attention. First, through regional integration, the handicap of border crossings is eased to facilitate access to neighbouring countries and overseas markets. Secondly, the development of infrastructure increasingly proceeds on a regional basis. Landlocked developing countries which belong to thriving regional integration organizations appear to perform better than others as hosts for foreign direct investment and integration into the regional transit transport infrastructure network.
12. The regional integration organizations have been making serious efforts over the past years to expand their transport and communications infrastructure and improve their services to ensure their sustainable development. In this regard, a number of far-reaching agreements have been signed to plan and set a standard for regional transport infrastructure development, identified missing links in the regional transport networks, many policy reforms have been taken place to simplify and streamline the procedures and to attract private sector and to establish road funds etc. However, due to lack of appropriate policy frameworks in the sector and problems associated with institutional structures, the growth and efficiency of the sector remain to be far from satisfactory.
13. For landlocked countries transit routes to the sea can also be improved within programmes to develop an integrated sub-regional and regional transport network, such as the development of Trans-African Highways; Asian Highway, and Asian Railway, the Initiative for the Integration of Regional Infrastructure in South America (IIRSA). Investment needs for landlocked developing countries should be identified and priority attention should be given to the completion of missing links in the context of these regional initiatives. Also, the Development Corridor and Spatial Development Initiative (SDI) in southern Africa is very useful. SDI places transport in general and transit transport in particular in a broader socio-economic context that views transport from a holistic perspective. It recognizes the interdependence of transport with other sectors. This was emphasized that the priority attention should be given to the transit transport infrastructure development and completing missing links in the regional infrastructure network.
14. Although most regional economic communities established transport policy frameworks, the clear strategies, benchmarks, targets, and timeframes needed to implement them are lacking. Indicators should be developed to measure the performance of the regional economic communities in transport integration, including physical integration, policy convergence, and operational issues. Role of African Union and NEPAD is particularly important for the transit transport infrastructure development in the African continent.
15. Effective regional cooperation for transit transport infrastructure development will require good governance, improved peace and security, and compliance with agreements reached at the regional and sub-regional levels. It will require policy reforms, building physical and human capacity, modernizing management, attracting more private sector involvement, improving trade facilitation measures, adopting appropriate corridor approaches, improving safety and security, introducing new technologies, and ensuring that infrastructure development policies take poverty reduction into account.
16. Regional integration communities and corridor management committees need both financial and technical assistance in their efforts to establish efficient transit transport systems in their respective regions.
17. Transit transport cooperation is an important area for South-South cooperation as both landlocked and transit developing counties are both developing countries. The Almaty Programme of Action provides an excellent framework for South-South cooperation.
IV. Enabling environment for the transit transport infrastructure development
18. Transit transport infrastructure is more than hardware. Policy measures should be further developed to improve the efficiency of the use of existing transit transport infrastructure facilities. For that, border crossing and customs procedures, excessive requirements for documentation should be further simplified and streamlined, adjacent border control points should be broadly developed, unnecessary check points and customs points should be reduced substantially, bureaucratic bottlenecks and paper work should be significantly reduced and modern computer technology should be broad introduced and implementation of the regional and sub-regional agreements should strengthened.
19. Establishment of a sound framework for business, involving good governance on the part of the both public and private sectors on the basis of transparent rules and regulations and the elaboration of best practices are the vital prerequisite for the development of efficient transit transport infrastructure development. It includes human capital and social infrastructure. Human resource development is essential for infrastructure building and maintenance. Landlocked and transit developing countries more assistance in this area. It was emphasized that both recipient landlocked and transit developing countries and donor countries should take necessary measures to increase the accountability of the effective use funds allocated for transit transport infrastructure development.
20. Landlocked and transit developing countries need to adopt transparent policies and strategies to liberalize access to infrastructure markets and to move to market-based provision of infrastructure services. Reforms need to strengthen private sector participation and empower the private sector by involving it in policy dialogue and advocacy for improvements in operational efficiency. Competition policy should be in place.
21. Governments should give high priority to the transport sector by formulating and strengthening their policies to attract investment in infrastructure and related services. In this context, private sector participation has an important role in improving the quality of transport and transit services including through a public-private partnership framework.
22. Decisions concerning transport development projects should be taken in consultations, as appropriate, with relevant stakeholders. In order to ensure suitable and efficient investment allocation for infrastructure development, it is vital for local and national authorities to exercise true ownership over such programmes and projects.
V. Role international financial and development institutions and international organizations
23. Donor countries, UN system organizations, multilateral financial and development institutions, UNCTAD, United Nations Regional Commissions, the World Bank, the Regional Development Banks, the World Customs Organization, the World Trade Organization, should provide better coordinated and coherent financial and technical assistance to landlocked and transit developing countries in the form of grants or concessional loans for the construction, maintenance and improvement of their transport, storage and other transit-related facilities. Also, priority attention should be given to the transit transport infrastructure needs of landlocked developing countries within the context of the Aid for Trade initiative of the World Trade Organization. The efforts made by the Special Unit for South-South Cooperation of the United Nations Development Programmme is commended and it is requested to continue its efforts to facilitate South-South cooperation in the areas of transit transport cooperation between landlocked and transit developing countries. In addition international financial and development institutions and other relevant organizations should provide greater support and assistance in capacity building to improve the efficiency of the use of existing transit facilities. Project evaluation procedures should take into account the special problems of landlocked developing countries to ease the commercial requirements for the projects.
24. The UN-OHRLLS should redouble its efforts to mobilize and coordinate the support measures by the UN system organizations and other international organizations for the effective implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action. For the immediate future the priority attention should be given to the effective preparation and successful organization of the midterm review of the Almaty Programme of Action.
25. Given the geographical position of landlocked countries, transit transport systems and mainly transport infrastructures are key sectors for the development and the competitiveness of their products in external trade. However, the current state of these countries infrastructures is appalling. It is one of their major handicaps. In their declarations and presentations priorities were established and actions proposed to contribute in the debates which will be done in 2008 during the mid-term review of the Programme of Almaty.
26. During the Ouagadougou Meeting, delegations clearly identified constraints suffered by their countries at the national, sub-regional, and regional levels. In their declarations and presentations they set up priorities, which should be emphasized and proposed actions in order to contribute in the debates, which will be done in 2008 during the Follow-up Meeting for the Implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action.
27. Main constraints identified:
- Poor and inadequate infrastructures;
- High transport costs due to the low level of infrastructure services and to the numerous non-tariff barriers;
- Limited number of goods export towards international markets;
- High dependence of export products of an insignificant value added;
- Bureaucratic practices at border posts;
- Road insecurity;
- Poor and obsolete transport material.
28. The priorities identified:
- Preservation and strengthening of the existing transit facilities through appropriate maintenance;
- Interconnection of opening-up highway missing links connecting landlocked developing countries;
- Improvement of traffic free flow;
- Sustainability of transport infrastructure.
29. Concrete proposals were drawn from statements and presentations during the Ouagadougou Meeting, which should be considered in the preparation process of the midterm review in 2008. This will contribute to speed up the implementation of Almaty Programme. The proposals include:
- Supporting Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and other relevant organizations such as corridor management committees to develop community-based transit transport infrastructure development programmes;
- Strengthening capacities of RECs and member States for the coordinated infrastructure development programmes and their implementation;
- Supporting RECs to mobilize resources in order to implement the various components of the programmes (infrastructures and transport facilitation);
- Harmonizing road fees, documentation and procedures;
- Harmonizing axle load control and vehicles size;
- Developing pipeline projects, mainly on priority corridors;
- Drafting a concession railway standard agreement;
- Developing a regional railway standard plan;
- Developing inland waterway networks agreements and mobilize necessary financial resources for their effective implementation;
- Preparing and implementing a plan in line with the Yamoussokro Declaration;
- Developing a regional, search, and rescue framework, taking into account technical and political dimensions;
- Mobilizing technical and financial partners to support programmes;
- Further developing sub-regional hubs (e.g. Peru-Brazil-Bolivia Hub, Central Inter-Oceanic Hub, Capricorn Hub, Paraguay-Brazil-Argentina-Chili Hub, and the Paraguay-Parana Waterway Hub);
- Integrating the multi-modal approach in the design, the construction and the management of transit transport infrastructures and services;
- Developing a public-private partnership;
- Promoting a computerized goods monitoring system in the corridor;
- Setting up a coordinating unit with the United Nations bodies through UNDP offices in each countries;
- Mainstreaming the environmental aspect in transport infrastructure development projects through adequate environmental assessments.
30. The outcome of the thematic meeting on transit transport infrastructure development held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso from 18 to 20 June 2007 should be presented to the midterm review as a substantive input. The outcome of this meeting should be also issued as a document of the forthcoming 62nd session of the General Assembly of the United Nations.