Excellency Ambassador Takasu,
Distinguished delegates,

Good afternoon and thank you for inviting me to speak today. I am very pleased to report to you that since the last time we met under Ambassador Takasu’s Chairmanship, good progress was made in the preparations toward the midterm review.

Three regional review meetings were organized as planned. The first one was held for the Euro-Asian region on 22 and 23 April 2008 in Bangkok back-to-back with the 64th ESCAP Commission, in close cooperation with the Economic Commission for Europe.

The second regional review was held for the African region from 18 to 20 June 2008at the Headquarters of the Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa.  Lastly, just on 30 June 2008, the review for the Latin American region was organized by ECLAC in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Both the participation and substantive outcomes of the regional review meetings were outstanding. The outcome documents of the regional review meetings, together with the outcomes of the two thematic meetings held last year in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, on transit transport infrastructure development and in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, on international trade and trade facilitation, will provide the main inputs to the midterm review process.

Also, Secretary-General will submit a report on the progress in the implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action which will provide member states with the assessment of implementation for the first five years and recommendations for the way forward. The report is being finalized. 

In addition, as part of the preparatory process, several pre-conference and preparatory meetings have been organized since our last meeting on key issues under the Almaty agenda to further attract global attention to the process.  Just to list the latest ones, we had: (1) the UN-OHRLLS / World Bank joint workshop on “Logistics Performance Indicators and new approaches on improving trade and transport services to and from Landlocked Countries”, on 2 June, which examined the economics of being landlocked, the benefits for transit countries from the provision of transit services to landlocked neighbours, monitoring systems for trade corridor performance, transit regimes and global standards; (2) the WTO / UN-OHRLLS workshop on trade facilitation and aid for trade, on 27 June, that assessed the status of the trade facilitation negotiations at the WTO and the latest developments in the Aid for Trade Initiative; and (3) the UNCTAD seminar on technical assistance in the area of trade facilitation, held on 8 and 9 July in Geneva. The outcomes of these events are also meant to contribute recommendations for action to be considered in the next five years of implementation of the Almaty Programme.

Allow me now to say a few words on the organizational arrangements for the high-level plenary meeting of the General Assembly on the midterm review of the Almaty Programme, which will take place on 2nd and 3rd October 2008. I was given to understand that the President of the General Assembly will provide you shortly with the detailed information on specific arrangements and modalities for the High-level midterm review.   

The opening of the high level meeting will be addressed by the President of the General Assembly, the Secretary-General and two or three Heads of State or Government of landlocked and transit developing countries.  Participation is expected at the ministerial or highest possible level.

The opening will be followed by a high-level panel on the “Role of International Support in establishing efficient transit transport systems to expand trade opportunities for landlocked developing countries”.  Heads of relevant UN Agencies and representatives of financial and development institutions, such as UNCTAD, UNDP and regional development banks will make presentations. An interactive, free flowing debate will follow. This will take place in the Trusteeship Council.

Following the high-level panel, the plenary meeting will resume in the General Assembly.  Member States will have the opportunity to present their national experiences in achieving the Almaty objectives and reaffirm their commitment to full and timely implementation of the Programme. A formal list of speakers will be opened with DGACM in the next few weeks.

During the high-level meeting, there will be three main pre-conference and side events.

First, of course the 2008 treaty event that included 10 most important multilateral conventions in the area of transit transport in order to facilitate landlocked and transit developing countries in acceding to these conventions. As you may know, my Office in close cooperation with the support of the Office of Legal Affairs organized seminars in New York, Bangkok, Addis Ababa and Accra to familiarize member states with the benefits emanating from these conventions and legal steps needed to be undertaken to accede to these conventions. I would like to simply take this opportunity to reiterate the appeal of the Secretary-General to you and your respective governments to actively participate in the Treaty Event and inform the Secretariat of their intention to become parties to such treaties that are of great relevance to transit trade. As mentioned in the invitation of the Secretary-General, the Treaty Event will take place from 23 to 25 and on 29 and 30 September 2008 in the treaty signing area in the General Assembly Building.

The second main pre-conference event will take place the day before the high-level midterm review meeting, on 1st October 2008 and is the Investment Forum, jointly organized by my Office with UNCTAD and the World Bank Doing Business Project, on the theme:  “Investment Forum: Investment Climate for Landlocked Developing Countries”. The Forum has the objective to bring together policy makers and private sector practitioners from LLDCs, as well as current and prospective investors from abroad to analyze current trends in FDI flows to LLDCs, exchange experiences and best practices and to explore future developments in FDI flows to these countries.

Last but not least, given the crucial role of cross-border cooperation in the Almaty implementation, a High-level panel will be organized during lunch time on 3 October with focus on the regional dimension for transit transport cooperation. The Executive Secretaries of the UN regional commissions will participate in a round table discussion and present their efforts to establish efficient transit transport systems in their regions.

Let me conclude my remarks by congratulating Ambassador Takasu on the excellent, comprehensive draft outcome document that he has submitted to the intergovernmental consideration. I found that the draft that was presented to you by Ambassador Takasu provides a very balanced and comprehensive assessment of what has been done so far and offers measures that need to be undertaken to accelerate the implementation of the Almaty priorities. I am confident that, with such excellent basis and the able leadership of Ambassador Takasu, the delegates will be able to reach an agreement on the outcome document without major difficulties.


I wish you every success in your consultations.

Thank you.