Statement by Mr. Anwarul K. Chowdhury

United Nations Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries,
Landlocked Developing Countries and SmallIsland Developing States

 

—-

at the
Ministerial Meeting of the Landlocked Developing Countries

 

on the eve of UNCTAD XI

 

São Paulo, Brazil
13 June 2004

Madame Foreign Minister of Paraguay,
Chairman of the LLDC Group, Minister of Lao PDR
Distinguished Ministers,
Excellencies,

Allow me at the outset to congratulate you for convening the Ministerial Meeting of Landlocked Developing Countries on the eve of UNCTAD XI as we are gathered here in Sao Paulo to address the most pressing issues of the trade and development. This meeting serves as exemplary demonstration of the solidarity and united action of landlocked developing countries at various multilateral fora. I thank you Madame Minister for the important and substantive statement that you have just presented to the Ministerial Meeting.

Let me focus in my intervention on efforts aimed at implementing the outcome of the International Ministerial Conference that was the first ever major UN event which brought the issue of landlocked developing countries at the forefront of the international development agenda. The Almaty Conference should not be treated as the culmination of international efforts to assist landlocked developing countries. As a matter of fact, the real hard work of facilitating landlocked developing countries to reap the benefits of this very successful conference is ahead of us and I am happy to say that it has started well in full vigour.

Madame Minister,

The Ministerial Conference galvanized international recognition and support in favor of landlocked developing countries. The Conference adopted the landmark Almaty Programme of Action to address the special needs of landlocked developing countries. This is a historic achievement made possible thanks to almost half a century of concerted efforts by landlocked developing countries since the 11th session of the UN General Assembly. With the Almaty Programme, the international community clearly recognized that the main reason for the marginalization of landlocked developing countries from the international trading system is high trade transaction costs caused by geographical handicap of landlockedness and remoteness from major world markets. The Almaty Programme addresses transit, trade and development issues in a holistic manner.

The Almaty Programme of Action is not a sectoral document. It is a well-focused, comprehensive document, which addresses core issues relevant for the progressive integration of landlocked developing countries into the world economy and in international trading system through establishing efficient transit systems. The Almaty Programme of Action identified specific actions in five priority areas, implementation of which is considered to be both feasible and measurable. It is also a balanced document, as it recognizes that the interests and concerns of landlocked and transit developing countries are complimentary and mutually reinforcing. The Progreamme provides a win-win solution for both landlocked and transit countries.

Madame Minister,

The Office of the High Representative was entrusted with the strengthened mandate to ensure the full and effective implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action. I will rely on well-coordinated efforts and cooperation of all the relevant parts of the United Nations. One of the main reasons for the success in the process leading to Almaty was the broad based participatory approach, as different UN agencies and international organizations specialized in different aspects of the transit trade joined together. The same approach will be guiding the implementation process. My Office is already undertaking broad consultations in this context with the landlocked and transit developing countries and relevant international organizations.

One of the important steps for the progress made since the Almaty Conference is the preparation of the Roadmap towards the implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action, which was endorsed at the Inter-agency meeting of the United Nationsin February. The Roadmap provides guidance for our concerted action. The main elements of the Roadmap are:

  • Identification of major missing links in Africa, Asia and Latin America;

  • Solicitation of funds to complete the missing links in regional transport network;

  • Identification of subregional priority projects on the development of infrastructure and trade facilitation measures and solicitation of funds for the implementation;

 

  • Encouraging landlocked and transit developing countries, where necessary, to establish national trade facilitation boards, involving all stakeholders, with a view to channel international support in the area of trade facilitation;

  • Preparation of Guidelines for the establishment of the national trade facilitation boards; and

  • Promotion of international conventions in the area of transport and transit trade.

  • Coordinated technical assistance to landlocked and transit developing countries

The United Nations secretariat will proceed vigorously with the implementation of these immediate steps identified in the Roadmap.


Madame Minister,

Landlocked developing countries should also continue to be vigilant and seize the momentum. In this regard, I would like to emphasize two aspects here. First, this year the General Assembly will consider for the first time the report of the Secretary-General of the United Nations on progress made in the implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action. The Landlocked Developing Countries should prepare well for the General Assembly session, as it is the first substantive consideration of the issue since Almaty. The GA consideration should result in a substantive resolution, which should provide UN agencies and other relevant organizations with clear guidance for further actions that need to be undertaken by the international community in support of landlocked countries.

Another important area for immediate action is international trade. In recent months, the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries showed real strength in promoting their interest, and acting effectively in concert, notably on the issue of market access for agricultural and non-agricultural goods. In this regard, let me commend the efforts made by the Government of Paraguay, as the coordinator of the Group in trade and development matters. The landlocked developing countries should redouble their efforts within the context of multilateral trade negotiations. Consultations of Trade Ministers of landlocked developing countries, initiated in Cancun, should be continued on a regular basis. The consultations of Trade Ministers should be preceded by a wide-range of analytical work and studies to better present their case at the global level. Landlocked developing countries should work actively to benefit from technical cooperation and capacity building programmes offered by the relevant UN organizations and the WTO. I got the encouraging impression from my discussions with the senior trade negotiators of donor countries that they now have a better understanding of the difficult situation faced by landlocked developing countries in international trade, and are willing to accommodate the concerns of these countries in trade negotiations.

Madame Chair,

I am confident that the Ministerial Declaration, that the meeting is about to adopt, will give a strong boost to the concerted efforts of the international community to adequately address the special needs of landlocked developing countries. I wish you every success in your deliberations. I thank you very much for your attention.

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