New York, 30 August (UN Headquarters) – Mongolian Prime Minister M.Enkhbold today said the full, effective and timely implementation of the Almaty Programme of Actionand Sao Paulo Consensus adopted at the 11th Conference of UNCTAD would significantly contribute to the efforts of Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) directed at fostering their development and poverty alleviation.
 
He told ministers of trade and high level officials from LLDCs and transit developing countries and United Nations officials meeting in the Mongolian capital, Ulaanbaatar that said the transit transport issue was of special significance within the context of trade and trade facilitation and had been at the centre of attention within the multilateral negotiations on trade facilitation. Trade facilitation was of vital importance, particularly for landlocked, small and vulnerable countries in increasing their volume of trade and competitiveness of their products on the world market, he said.  He believed that decreasing transit transport costs by transit countries for LLDCs, providing special and preferential treatment in transportation of LLDCs’ exported and imported products would be a step towards encouraging fair competition and working in close collaboration in that field would ensure their economic development.
 
Speaking on the last of the four-day thematic meeting on international trade and trade facilitation as part of the preparations for the midterm review of the Almaty Programme of Action, participants continued to highlight transport-related problems faced by landlocked developing countries.
 
Cheikh Sidi Diarra, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS) told the meeting that although the difficulties of being landlocked permeated every aspect of the development process and poverty alleviation, their impact on the external trade was particularly severe.
 
He said the additional transit transport costs, which landlocked countries had to bear, inhibited export development since this burden limited the range of potential exports and access to potential markets. Also, the price of imports tends to soar. High transport costs remained the single most important obstacle to their equitable access to global markets and competition with other countries. He reminded the meeting that despite the gains that the international trading system had brought, the landlocked developing countries remained marginalized; noting that nine of the 31 landlocked developing countries were not members of the WTO.
 
Mr. Diarra said the United Nations as a whole, and his office in particular, would continue to support the efforts of the landlocked and transit developing countries toward the full and effective implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action. 
 
Gilbert Houngbo, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for Africa, told the meeting that at the mid-point of achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), it was imperative that efforts were intensified to reach the agreed targets and promote sustainable human development especially for those countries that were at the risk of missing them. For that reason, Mr. Houngbo felt the meeting offered a unique opportunity to discuss ways and means to strengthen global partnerships between landlocked developing countries, transit countries, and development partners in the drive to achieve the MDGs. In this regard, the Almaty Programme of Action provided a common platform of priorities for LLDCs, he added.
 
Shigeru Mochida, Deputy Executive Secretary and Officer-In-Charge, a.i., of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), said market access was essential for landlocked countries to benefit from globalization. However, possibly more important was the issue of trade and transport facilitation, without which market access opportunities could not be fully exploited. He also stressed that infrastructure alone was not enough to solve all the problems related to the remoteness and isolation from major international markets. In his view, the resolution called for the strengthening of capacity-building activities for government agencies of landlocked and transit countries in the field of trade facilitation in order to establish a transparent, consistent and predictable environment for conducting international trade.
 
Minister of Road, Transport and Tourism and Chairman of the National Committee for Trade and Transport Facilitation, Ts.Tsengel told the meeting that foreign technical and financial assistance and close cooperation from international organizations and donor countries will be of great importance to Mongolia.
 
The meeting was also addressed by Amadou Daouda Diallo, Minister of Industry and Commerce of Mali and Chairman of the Group of Landlocked Countries.
 
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For further information, please contact Derrick Ed Bwalya, Information Officer, Office of the Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS).
Tel: +1-917-367-2471. E-mail: bwalyad@un.org
 
UN-OHRLLS/34/2007