Kazakhstan To Host Meeting Of Ministers Of Landlocked Developing Countries
Senior officials from the world’s 31 landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) and the United Nations will meet in Almaty, Kazakhstan 12 -14 September 2012 to discuss ways to further enhance the trade potential of these countries.
Co-organised by the United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS), together with the Government of Kazakhstan, the two critical meetings will be held in Almaty, the first of which will kick-off on 12 September and is expected to focus on tackling the obstacles to improved trading opportunities for the LLDCs.
Landlocked Developing Countries face structural and geographical handicaps that prevent them from fully harnessing the potential of trade as an engine for sustainable and inclusive development. Costly, cumbersome and time-consuming customs and border-crossing procedures, remoteness from major world markets and inadequate transit infrastructure and services make the exports of LLDCs to be less competitive on the world market.
Speaking ahead of the meetings, Ambassador Gyan Chandra Acharya, the newly-appointed High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, stressed how soaring transport costs compounded by delays, fees, cumbersome border-crossing and customs procedures, and other regulatory constraints constitute the greatest impediment to LLDCs’ trade competitiveness and equitable access to global markets.
“According to the World Bank’s Doing Business 2012 data, LLDCs have the highest transport costs to export a container averaging about US $2700 compared to about $1000 in transit developing countries and about US $3600 per container for importing compared to about $1500 in transit developing countries. These high transport and trade transaction costs, diminish export profits, inflate the prices of imported inputs for manufacturing and discourage investment thereby negatively affecting overall sustainable development in landlocked developing countries,” said Acharya.
UN-OHRLLS, is the main UN entity tasked with the coordination and reporting on the implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action for LLDCs adopted by the international conference of Landlocked Developing Countries, transit developing countries, donor countries and international financial and development institutions in Kazakhstan, in 2003. The 10-year action-plan provides a global framework for addressing the unique challenges that are faced by LLDCs in their efforts to integrate in the international trading system. It sets priorities for action in the areas of transit policy, infrastructure development and maintenance, international trade facilitation and international support.
Acharya noted that since the adoption of the Almaty Programme of Action, there has been increased visibility and recognition of LLDCs on the international level and in the United Nations. The implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action, has contributed to LLDCs increasing their exports from about 0.5 percent of total world exports to just over 1 percent.
Ministers attending the meeting are expected to adopt a declaration that reflects their common position to be used as input into the substantive preparations of the Ten-Year Review Conference of the Almaty Programme and a common position reflecting the needs of the LLDCs in the ongoing Doha Development Round of trade negotiations.
“As we prepare to review the Almaty Programme of Action and develop a new, more comprehensive common action-oriented framework for the next decade, the United Nations and my Office will continue to support the efforts of the LLDCs toward that worthy and achievable end,” Acharya added.
The opening sessions of these two meetings will feature statements by H.E. Mr. Bakytzhan Sagintayev, Minister of Economic Development and Trade Republic of Kazakhstan; H. E. Dr. Nam Viyaketh, Minister of Industry and Commerce, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Chairman of the Group of LLDCs; H.E. Mr. Manuel Maria Caceres, Vice Minister of External Affairs and Economic Issues of Paraguay, Coordinator of the Group of LLDCs on matters related to trade and development in Geneva; Ambassador Gyan Chandra Acharya, the Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States; and senior officials of the World Trade Organization, UNCTAD, World Bank and the International Road Transport Union.