Transport costs, delays and red tape harming poor landlocked nations – UN envoy

28 August 2007

High transport costs, regulatory constraints and other delays and obstacles at customs and border crossings pose the greatest threat to the world’s poorest landlocked countries becoming competitive in international trade, the recently installed United Nations envoy for those States said today.

Cheikh Sidi Diarra, who was appointed in July as the Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS), told a ministerial meeting in Mongolia that the combination of fees, delays and obstacles limited poor nations’ access to global markets.

The four-day meeting, held in the capital Ulaanbaatar, started today and brings together trade ministers and high-level officials from landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) and transit developing countries.

Since the early 1990s, the share of LLDCs in world trade has remained stuck at less than one per cent, Mr. Diarra noted at the conference, and nine of the 10 worst countries in terms of the number of days needed to complete export procedures are LLDCs.

He said the way to overcome the impact of long intercontinental distances is to encourage LLDCs to work more closely with their transit neighbours – and the international community more generally – to improve the efficiency of their transport systems.

The so-called Almaty Programme of Action, launched in 2003 in the city of that name in Kazakhstan, is designed to help LLDCs improve their transit transport systems and cooperate more with their neighbours that have coastlines.

Mr. Diarra stressed to the meeting that the Almaty Programme also identifies the importance of LLDCs taking active steps to halt and reverse the deterioration of their physical transport infrastructure.

The Ulaanbaatar meeting is expected to be the last of two such meetings this year to generate material for the General Assembly mid-term review next year of the implementation of the Almaty Programme.

 

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