BANGKOK, 22 April 2008 – Landlocked Developing Countries have registered significant progress in their efforts to end their marginalization from the international trading system, a top United Nations official has said.

Speaking at a regional meeting of Asian states, Mr. Cheick Sidi Diarra, the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States said that enormous momentum to address the special needs of Landlocked Developing Countries has been generated since the adoption of the Programme of Action for Landlocked Developing Countries in 2003.

The Programme of Action was adopted by the international conference of Landlocked Developing Countries, transit developing countries, donor countries and international financial and development institutions in Almaty, Kazakhstan. It created a global partnership for addressing challenges to the integration of Landlocked Developing Countries into the global economy. It sets priorities for action in the areas of transit policy, infrastructure development and maintenance, international trade facilitation and international support.

Mr. Diarra, who is also the United Nations Special Adviser on Africa, said that official development assistance to Landlocked Developing Countries was steadily increasing; its share of infrastructure development was on the rise and far-reaching trade facilitation measures were being implemented.

“Thanks to bold policy reforms and cooperative arrangements undertaken by both landlocked and transit developing countries, delays in transit traffic are being significantly reduced,” he said, noting that on average, it took Landlocked Developing Countries 49 days to export in 2007 down from 57 days in 2005. Time to import went down to 56 days from 72 in the same period. These improvements, he said, had resulted in reduced trade transaction costs for Landlocked Developing Countries.

“Landlocked and transit developing countries should vigorously continue their efforts to build this momentum,” he urged.  

The UN official commended the role of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in promoting regional transport and communication infrastructure development and in facilitating trade. He cited the inter-governmental agreements on the Asian highway and Asian railway.

The Asian regional meeting is one of the regional and international meetings taking place in preparation for the midterm review by the United Nations General Assembly of the implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action due in October at the United Nations headquarters in New York.