Landlocked countries to explore new trade routes at UN-sponsored talks

8 August 2005

Landlocked nations will try to improve their access to seaports and negotiate other measures that would make it easier for them to engage in world trade at a conference sponsored by the United Nations starting tomorrow in Paraguay.

At the conference, hosted by the Government of Paraguay and organized by the UN Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (OHRLLS), trade ministers and representatives from 31 such nations in Asia, Africa and South America will seek to hammer out a common platform for the Doha round of trade talks of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Costly, cumbersome and time-consuming overland shipping, distance from major world markets and inadequate transport infrastructure add costs to the trade transactions of landlocked countries that often exceed the value of the products themselves.

Such disadvantages can slow the economic growth rate of a country by an average 0.7 per cent, according to studies conducted by OHRLLS.

The trade problems of landlocked countries were covered, in principle, at the landmark UN conference in Almaty, Kazakhstan in 2003. But inclusion in WTO agreements would be decisive step in putting those principles into practice, organizers said.

Furthermore, according to UN Under-Secretary-General Anwarul Chowdhury, a successful conclusion in Paraguay would signal formation of the first coherent organizing block of landlocked countries for global trade negotiations.

Also contributing to the conference, to be held in Asuncion, Paraguay from 9 – 10 August, are the Geneva-based UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD); the UN’s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), headquartered in Santiago, Chile; and the Special Unit for South-South Cooperation of the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

 

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