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Experts Group Meeting on Improving Transit Cooperation and Trade Facilitation for Further Integration of LLDCs in Global Trade

17 October, 2019 @ 9:00 am - 18 October, 2019 @ 5:00 pm


Due to their geographical location LLDCs are isolated from major markets and are therefore faced with high trade costs. High trade costs are largely a result of long distances from the nearest seaports, multiple border crossings, complex administrative transit and border procedures and weak institutional and human capacities. The high trade costs affect the LLDCs’ competitiveness in international trade as well as their overall socio-economic development. The 32 LLDCs therefore remain marginalized from global trade as they account for less than 1% of global merchandise exports. Their exports remain undiversified and comprise of primary commodities.

The WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) is expected to reduce global trade costs by an average of 14.3 per cent (WTO, 2015) and the reduction is expected to be even higher in LLDCs. The implementation of the TFA by LLDCs as well as by their transit counterparts is therefore fundamental. Addressing the high trade costs requires addressing transit systems, including physical infrastructure, soft infrastructure that includes the legal framework and institutions, and procedures serving trade corridors. LLDCs however still lag behind most countries in these key aspects.

The VPoA, under its priority areas on fundamental transit policy issues and on trade facilitation, sets specific, ambitious objectives of reducing travel time along corridors with the aim of allowing transit cargo to move 300-400 kilometres per 24 hours; significantly reduce the time spent at land borders; improve intermodal connectivity so as to ensure efficient transfers from rail to road and vice versa and from port to rail and/or road and vice versa; reduce transaction costs; and ensure that all transit regulations, formalities and procedures for traffic in transit are published and updated in accordance with the TFA. According to the 2019 Secretary General’s report on the implementation of the VPoA (A/74/113), more still need to be done to achieve these objectives. The VPoA recognizes that LLDCs are faced with inadequate capacities, including in customs and border entities, transit transport agencies, as well as in the implementation of transit and trade facilitation agreements, including the TFA. It is therefore important to identify the major achievements and obstacles, identify best practices and provide recommendations to enhance trade facilitation and improved transit for accelerated integration of LLDCs into global trade.

The implementation of the TFA is essential in achieving the objectives set out in the VPoA. The TFA contains 36 measures aimed at expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods, including goods in transit. The ease of implementation and the degree of impact of trade facilitation measures in reducing trade costs and achieving efficiency differs given country’s unique circumstances. The LLDCs have unique challenges that include crossing multiple borders and changing transport modes as well as inadequate transit transport infrastructure. Given their unique challenges, these countries require unique and accelerated approach to trade facilitation and efficient transit cooperation. Addressing transit challenge is also fundamental. It is therefore necessary to assess and identify measures that can have a significant impact in addressing high trade costs and transit challenges faced by the LLDCs and prioritize these in their implementation plans and for support.

In its resolution 72/232, the General Assembly of the United Nations decided to convene a comprehensive high-level midterm review on the implementation of the VPoA, to be held on 5 and 6 December 2019 in New York. The midterm review will analyze the status of implementation of all aspects of the Programme and identify best practices and lessons learnt as well as obstacles and constraints encountered, and actions needed to accelerate the implementation of the VPoA.

It is in this context that OHRLLS is organizing the Expert Group Meeting. A report from this meeting will serve as a background document for the comprehensive high-level midterm review.

Meeting Documents

Programme English
Concept Note English

Presented Documents 

Day 1 - Thursday, 17 October 2019
Welcome and Introduction
Mr. Sandagdorj Erdenebileg, Chief of Policy Development, Coordination, and Reporting Service, UN-OHRLLS
H.E. Mr. Julio César Peralta Rodas, Chargé d'affaires a.i. Permanent Mission of Paraguay, Geneva
Mr. Poul Hansen, Chief, Trade Facilitation Section, UNCTAD
Session 1: Overview of status of implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement by LLDCs and transit countries and implementation issues including technical assistance and capacity building opportunities
Ms. Gladys Mutangadura, Senior Programme Officer, UNOHRLLSEnglish
Mr. Mark Henderson, Economic Affairs Officer, Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility, WTOEnglish
Mr. Poul Hansen, Chief, Trade Facilitation Section, UNCTAD
Ms. Zodwa Florence Mabuza, Principal Regional Integration Officer, African Development Bank English
Mr. Khan Salehim, Associate Economic Affairs Officer, UNECEEnglish
Session 2: Access to information, transparency and fees and charges
Ms. Sheri Rosenow, Coordinator, Trade Facilitation Agreement FacilityEnglish
Mr. Bill Gain, Global Lead, Trade Facilitation, Customs Reform & Border Management Trade & Regional Integration Unit, WBGEnglish
Mr. Tsotetsi Makong, Trade Facilitation Expert, The Trade Policy Training Centre in Africa (TRAPCA)English
Ms. Angela Strachan, Independent Consultant English
Session 3: Simplification and harmonization of documentation and customs procedures using international standards
Mr. John David, Economic Affairs Officer, UNCTADEnglish
Ms. Maria Rosaria Ceccarelli, OiC Director, Economic Cooperation and Trade Division, UNECEEnglish
Mr. Ganhuyag Sodnom, Director General, Investment Research Centre, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, MongoliaEnglish
Day 2 - Friday, 18 October 2019
Procedure for Addressing Disputes under the Trade Facilitation Agreement
WTO Legal Affairs Division Representative
Session 4: Experiences on enhancing customs cross-border cooperation
Ms. Nnana Mmanyabela Pheto, Economic Affairs Officer, UNOHRLLSEnglish
Ms. Vyara Filipova, Technical Attaché, WCOEnglish
Dr. Paras Kharel, Research Director, South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics, and Environment (SAWTEE) English
Mr. Alcides Monteiro, Senior Programme Officer-Customs
Southern African Development Community (SADC)
Ms. Isabelle Turcotte, Independent ConsultantEnglish
Way forward and Closing: Summary of discussions, key policy messages, and recommendations
Mr. Sandagdorj Erdenebileg, Chief of Policy Development, Coordination, and Reporting Service, UN-OHRLLSEnglish


17 October, 2019 @ 9:00 am
18 October, 2019 @ 5:00 pm


Geneva, Switzerland