General Assembly (Plenary)
Note: Owing to the liquidity crisis impacting our Organization, only a partial summary of statements made in today’s meetings of the General Assembly Plenary is available at this time. The complete summary will be issued later as Press Release GA/12221.
TIJJANI MUHAMMAD BANDE (Nigeria), President of the General Assembly, said that the Political Declaration of the High level Midterm Review on the Implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action for Landlocked Developing Countries for the Decade 2014 2024 is a testament to the strength of multilateralism. Landlocked developing countries are at risk of being left behind, he cautioned, noting that many of these countries are below the range of high human development according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and one third of their populations live in extreme poverty. Many of these nations continue to struggle in the shadows of historical injustices, he said.
Landlocked developing countries are highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, desertification, land degradation and drought, he said. Just nine months ago the landlocked States of Malawi and Zimbabwe were impacted by Cyclone Idai, despite being many miles from the sea. Undernourishment in these countries reached an alarming rate of 23.2 per cent in 2016, and food insecurity affects more than half of their populations. Forty per cent of their populations also do not have access to electricity. We cannot let the digital divide to deepen, he stressed.
While underscoring progress in the implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action, he stressed that more remains to be done particularly in implementing targets outlined in the Political Declaration. This includes taking action to remove all legal, social and economic barriers to achieve gender equality. It also includes combating illicit financial flows, strengthening trade financing for micro , small and medium sized enterprises, and improving economic governance and business regulations. To ensure sustainable development for generations to come we must work together now, he added.
ANTA NIO GUTERRES, Secretary General of the United Nations, said cooperation among transit countries and development partners is crucial to overcoming the challenges landlocked developing countries face. We need the right policy mix, increased investment, reliable transit infrastructure, efficient customs operations and improved access and use of technology, he said, as well as international cooperation to help landlocked countries in debt distress and stem illicit financial flows out of them. Headway has been made on the Vienna Programme of Action, including an increased gross domestic product (GPD) per capita in many landlocked developing countries, and encouraging progress has been recorded on some indicators related to health, education, energy, gender equality and information and communication technologies (ICT), and improved transport connectivity. These countries have also benefited from increases in official development assistance (ODA) since 2014 and from increased aid for trade and South South cooperation. This is progress to build on at a time when landlocked developing countries continue to face major challenges, he said.
However, trade integration remains low, these countries account for less than 1 per cent of global exports, infrastructure is inadequate, foreign direct investment has continued to decline and the global climate crisis is having a severe impact, he said. Furthermore, the 17 landlocked countries that are also least developed countries are heavily dependent on ODA, making it crucial for that aid to be increased and predictable. The midterm review offers a chance to forge greater coherence and synergy among the Vienna Programme of Action, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement on climate change and other relevant international frameworks, he said, calling on development partners to work together to mobilize domestic and external resources and direct them to high priority areas.
He went on to underscore the importance of innovative financing for infrastructure, support for business development, enhanced technical assistance and strengthened national statistical systems for landlocked developing countries. The Declaration you will adopt today calls on us to help turn landlocked developing countries into land linked places of prosperity and opportunity, he said. Let us join forces to help the world’s 32 landlocked developing countries achieve sustainable transformations and better standard of living for the more than 500 million people who call these countries home. The United Nations system, reformed and repositioned, remains strongly committed to supporting these efforts, he said.
The Assembly then adopted the Political Declaration without a vote.
RIYAD H. MANSOUR, Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said this is a crucial time for landlocked developing countries as they take stock of progress made in implementing the Vienna Programme of Action and the Sustainable Development Goals. Five years after the adoption of the action programme, the 32 landlocked developing countries still face special challenges due to geographical remoteness, lack of access to the sea and isolation from world markets. Exacerbating the situation are inadequate infrastructure, cumbersome border crossing procedures, structural deficiencies and limited capacities to deal with external shocks. Currently, one third of the population of landlocked developing countries live in poverty, he said, expressing concern that such States account for less than one per cent of global exports, with many experiencing persistent trade deficits. Many landlocked developing countries must also deal with the impacts of climate change, desertification and land degradation, he added.
We all agree that these challenges are not insurmountable, he said, calling for redoubled efforts to fulfil the Goals’ fundamental principal of leaving no one behind. Welcoming the Political Declaration just adopted by the Assembly, he said it is encouraging to see that Member States will come together through durable and effective partnerships between landlocked developing countries, transit countries and development partners, in addition to civil society, the private sector, academia, youth and other stakeholders. Reaffirming the Group of 77’s commitment to the effective implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Vienna Programme of Action, he urged Member States to work together and do what is required to achieve the socioeconomic transformation of landlocked developing countries.
MANQOBA BHEKI KHUMALO (Eswatini) said his country, as a landlocked nation, has prioritized international trade, infrastructure development, regional integration, transit issues and resource mobilization in implementing the Vienna Programme of Action. Eswatini’s strategic roadmap (2019 2022) identifies further challenges it faces, including a widening fiscal deficit, declining growth rate and low business ease ranking. Five key growth areas are a special focus of reforms, namely, education, mining, agriculture, manufacturing and tourism. The country’s membership in different regional economic communities places it in a key position to address transit bottlenecks impeding the movement of goods and services across frontiers, he noted. The move towards liberalization of services in various organizations will be fundamental in enhancing interconnectivity, which remains an obstacle for Eswatini. The seven priority sectors that will be liberalized in regional economic blocs communication, financial, business, transport, tourism, energy and construction will hopefully result in stronger and more resilient regional cooperation on the African continent.
RALPH PACHALO JOOMA, Minister for Transport and Public Works of Malawi, said that landlocked developing countries are falling short of the Vienna Programme of Action goals. Because Malawi has limited access to the sea, transportation costs are high, which, when coupled with low production of energy, the high cost of ICT and the impacts of climate change, results in the loss of competitive edge for Malawi’s exports and makes its imports expensive. While Malawi quickly mainstreamed the Programme of Action into national plans, the lack of resources continues to challenge implementation, he said. Highlighting regional opportunities aimed at attaining the ambitions of the Vienna action programme, he reported that the Infrastructure Development for Africa and the Tripartite Transport and Transit Facilitation Programme are continental initiatives to improve transit corridors and simplify rules and regulations.
JENS FROLICH HOLTE, State Secretary of Norway, speaking on behalf of the Nordic countries (Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Sweden and his own country), observed that one third of the population of landlocked developing countries live in extreme poverty. However, the obstacles these countries face are not insurmountable, and the Vienna Programme of Action is indeed a recipe to overcome them. The Nordic countries recognize the challenges that come with being landlocked. We have some of the highest levels of official development assistance (ODA) in the world, reaching the United Nations target of 0.7 per cent of gross national income (GNI) in the case of Denmark and 1 per cent for Norway and Sweden, he added.
Calling on countries to increase their financing to landlocked developing States, he underscored that these countries continue to be hit hard by climate change and require assistance in disaster risk reduction. The Nordic countries welcome progress in attracting private investments and developing public-private partnerships to help generate additional national funds. Trade facilitation programmes can also play an important role in helping such States increase trade.
YERZHAN ASHIKBAYEV (Kazakhstan) said his Government aims to keep improving its transit and transportation potential and develop the Eurasian multimodal transit-transport hub. Kazakhstan is implementing its national programme, Nurly Zhol, to strengthen European integration and ensure the country’s key role in China’s Belt and Road Initiative. As part of this programme, Kazakhstan has built more than 2,500 kilometres of railroad, reconstructed 12,000 kilometres of highways, opened the Western Europe-Western China automobile transit corridor and built the Khorgos Gateway dry port on the border with China, and modernized the Aktau port on the Caspian Sea. Today, Kazakhstan’s 11 international transit corridors 5 railway and 6 automobile let goods move from Europe to Asia much faster than by sea and more cheaply than by air transport. Landlocked developing countries have made significant progress in enhancing digital and energy connectivity, another key priority. The country is implementing a national programme, Digital Kazakhstan, to improve the quality of life by progressively developing its digital ecosystem. The introduction of ICT solutions for e-commerce has opened up new horizons for the landlocked developing countries.
Despite their efforts, these countries still experience difficulties in diversifying their export structures and enhancing trade capacities, he continued. As global chair of the landlocked developing countries for 2020-2021, Kazakhstan envisions building close cooperation with the United Nations system and other relevant organizations, financial institutions, development partners and transit countries, to forge coherence in achieving the goals of the Vienna Programme of Action. As a firm supporter of the multilateral trading system, Kazakhstan is privileged to host the twelfth World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference in its capital, Nur-Sultan, in June 2020. Kazakhstan also plans to host a landlocked developing countries’ ministerial in the margins of that conference and urges all Member States to use these meetings to discuss the critical issues facing such countries.
VIENGSAVATH SIPHADONE, Vice Minister for Public Works and Transport of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, said that his country has made considerable development progress by integrating the Vienna Programme into its national strategies. The goal is turning the country from land-locked to land-linked, based on the belief that it can become an inland transit route for countries in the region to use as a trade and communication hub. To that end, the Government has invested heavily in infrastructure for an efficient transport system and economic corridors. Six main railway projects have been introduced under a 2016 2030 plan that includes Lao-Chinese cooperation under the Belt and Road initiative. Trade policy is shaped by a national trade-facilitation committee, as well as bilateral agreements and regional and international frameworks. Many challenges remain, however, due to financial constraints, inadequate dry ports, distribution centres and other logistics facilities, cumbersome customs, technology gaps, insufficient human resources and limited export diversification and competitiveness. He reaffirmed the Government’s determination to overcome such challenges through accelerated efforts to fully implement the Vienna action programme by continuing its investments and working closely with the international community.
Ms. SAIDMURODZODA (Tajikistan) said her country must use the territory of other countries to ensure efficient transit and trade. Recalling that Tajikistan became a member of the WTO in 2014 in order to ease export-import procedures, she reported that the Government has allocated national funds for infrastructure improvements along its borders which has led to an increase in trade and less time to travel across national lines. Noting the importance of greater regional trade and multilateral framework agreements, she said education is at the heart of Tajikistan’s national development plans. However, outstanding issues include a need to implement regional projects with donor involvement, reduce operational costs, establish links with landlocked developing countries and to develop better logistics pathways.
Mr. SOUGOUMI (Chad), highlighting achievements in infrastructure development and sub-regional initiatives aimed at improving transportation in Africa, he said Chad is engaged in efforts to facilitate trade such as measures to modernize tax and customs systems. Chad is also developing an action plan to diversify its production structure, gradually moving toward manufacturing-driven economy and away from reliance on oil. Regional integration projects have made progress, however conflict in the region and insecurity caused by terrorist attacks negatively impacts trade, resulting in a tremendous loss of revenue, he warned, adding that market stagnation, remoteness of main markets and ineffective logistics systems are also persistent difficulties and obstruct external trade. In that context, Chad is fully engaged in the fight against terrorism and has allocated ample funds for security and safety measures.
JULIO CA SAR ARRIOLA RAMA REZ (Paraguay), speaking on behalf of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said that these countries have used the last several years to evaluate their challenges and obstacles in order to speed up implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action. During the first five years of the Programme of Action, the annual GDP of landlocked developing countries has shrunk and their human development indexes have remained below the global average. However, some progress has been made including in health, education, gender equality and access to potable water and information and communications technology. These countries have strengthened regional integration and more have ratified the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement and other regional and international transport and transit instruments.
Still, much more remains to be done to achieve the Vienna action programme, he said. These countries’ share of global trade has decreased and economic diversification has been insufficient, he said, underscoring how they remain disproportionately affected by climate change, drought and desertification. One third of our population still live in extreme poverty, he said. The 2030 Agenda recognizes the special needs of landlocked developing countries and underscores the importance of helping them implement the Vienna action programme. This is the time for all of us to unite our efforts through transparent, lasting and effective partnerships so that our geographic location is not reason for isolation, but for interconnection with the world, he added. It is time for the international community to make good on the leave no one behind promise and to expedite implementation of the Vienna action programme.
SILVIO GONZATO, European Union delegation, said its member States provide more than half of global ODA and it remains by far the largest donor in the world. It has become clear that past financing patterns will not be adequate to fulfil the 2030 Agenda and it is crucial to mobilize all available financing flows. For this to happen, it is crucial that landlocked developing countries develop a strategic vision of financing their sustainable development aims. To that end, the Union is working with the United Nations to help interested countries develop integrated national financing frameworks which bring together the different elements of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda at the country level, while also facilitating nationally owned and government led implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. The frameworks lay out a financing strategy, helping Governments to prioritize actions, manage risks and make the most of diverse financing sources.
The European Union remains focused on making better use of all means of implementation including capacity building and mobilising more domestic resources and private investment, he said. Its External Investment Plan for Africa and the European Neighbourhood aims to generate up to Euros 44 billion of new investment in sectors with the greatest potential to drive decent jobs and growth from sustainable cities and agriculture, to energy, transport and digital infrastructure. The Union also works on sustainable finance to help investors identify and seize environmentally sustainable investment opportunities, thereby connecting global finance with local financing needs. Support for landlocked developing countries’ trade facilitation is an essential component of Union’s development cooperation through its Aid for Trade Strategy. Further, it welcomes the creation of regional renewable energy networks and sustainable supply chains, which can help ensure these countries meet the Sustainable Development Goals and the goals of the Paris Agreement.
KINGA SINGYE, Foreign Secretary of Bhutan, said that his delegation co facilitated the intergovernmental negotiations of the Political Declaration with Austria, stressing that the outcome document succinctly captures the issues of landlocked developing countries and highlights the areas requiring sharper focus during the second half of the decade for implementation of the Vienna Programme. It’s clear that more needs to be done, faster, if these countries are to achieve the goals of the Vienna action programme by 2024. For its part, Bhutan has made significant progress, and if all goes well, it will be the first landlocked developing State to graduate from the least developed country category in 2023. Its development priorities have evolved from building basic infrastructure to investing in services and boosting the economy. Over the last 10 years, its GDP has more than tripled, with per capita income doubling. The economy has undergone structural transformation, with the sectoral share of agriculture going down to 17 per cent from 43 per cent and industry going up from 12 per cent to 41 per cent. However, significant constraints remain, such as being landlocked with a small population, limited economic diversification, high costs of trade, and lack of access to regional and international markets, he said, asking development partners to help his country build capacities in areas such as science, technology, innovation and e commerce.
JAN KICKERT (Austria) noted that his country is also landlocked and his delegation understands the related challenges. In 2014, Austria hosted the second United Nations conference on landlocked developing countries in Vienna and also co facilitated consultations for the outcome document. While physical distance and remoteness cannot be erased, many of the challenges related to landlockedness can be successfully overcome, he observed, noting that the support of development partners is crucial in this regard. Austria’s ODA to landlocked developing countries in 2017 totalled ?Euros 42.7 million and more recently, it has allocated ?Euros 1.4 million in humanitarian funding to Ethiopia and Burkina Faso, where conflict has been exacerbated by climate change. Regional cooperation and integration are critical in addressing the challenges of being landlocked, he emphasized, pointing out that Austria is an industrial country with a small domestic market and as such, depends on its export economy.
LANG YABOU (Gambia) noted Africa has 16 States in the landlocked developing countries category, and his coastal nation stands in solidarity with them in collectively confronting their unique challenges. In major recent developments, the African Continental Free Trade Area and Single African Air Transport Market present huge new opportunities for trade and transit between coastal and landlocked countries. According to the Secretary General’s report, while ODA increased from $24 billion in 2014 to $28 billion in 2017, the additional funding was concentrated in just a few landlocked recipients. He therefore called on Member States to increase their ODA share to benefit more of those countries. Citing the need for enhanced trade facilitation and investment in infrastructure between landlocked and transit countries, he said the Senegambia bridge has drastically reduced transit time for people and goods between Senegal and the Gambia, and for the region at large. The Gambia is also simplifying border crossings, improving port facilities and studying plans for interior dry ports to facilitate access for its neighbours, including landlocked ones.
ADELA RAZ (Afghanistan) said that the Vienna Programme of Action provides a critical and comprehensive framework to address the unique challenges faced by landlocked developing countries like Afghanistan. Due to its lack of direct access to the sea, Afghanistan’s goods rarely reach regional and international markets. Living in a geopolitically complex region, the unpredictable closure of trade routes has weakened the ability to get Afghan goods into external markets. The number one priority of Afghanistan’s recent economic development agenda was to diversify trade and connect the country to markets outside the region. To do so, it not only started reaching out to Central Asian neighbours but it has also looked beyond to markets in Europe and the Gulf region. It focused on transforming from a landlocked to a land connected country. Afghanistan is convinced that it can turn its geographical location from a source of vulnerability to a source of stability for greater connectivity and economic integration, she said.
BRIAN PATRICK FLYNN (Ireland), associating himself with the European Union, commended the efforts of landlocked developing countries, but said they cannot tackle their many challenges alone. We cannot allow the benefits of globalization and international financial to bypass the landlocked developing countries, he said. Noting their extreme vulnerability to climate change, he pointed to increasing desertification in the Sahel, receding glaciers and land degradation in Central Asia. Ireland’s recently launched Strategy for Africa to 2025 aims at helping to strengthen political partnerships with the continent’s nations. Recognizing that trade can be an engine for economic growth, he welcomed the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area.
FATHI EDREES (Egypt) called for moving away from a project-based approach towards programme-based interventions. As such, cooperation must be strengthened beyond trade to include development projects in infrastructure, transport and industrial development. Industrialization in landlocked developing countries must also be intensified through links with regional and global value chains and by enhancing intra-regional trade and special economic zones. Keen on strengthening developing country relations, Egypt organized the Fourth Investment for Africa Forum in November, thus confirming its commitment to the African Union Agenda 2063. In this regard, 13 deals worth $3 billion were signed at the conference, he recalled, also noting that the forum made seven recommendations, including a call on international financial institutions and investment funds to finance infrastructure projects in Africa. Moreover, he noted that the entry into force of the African Continental Free Trade Area will create new opportunities, adding that Egypt will host the Aswan Forum for Sustainable Peace and Development this month.
WU HAITAO (China), associating himself with the Group of 77, said the Vienna Programme of Action sets forth a clear direction for the international community to support the efforts of landlocked developing countries in addressing their unique challenges. Pointing to the need to deepen international development cooperation, he said North-South cooperation is essential and called on developed countries to honour their ODA commitments. There is a need to firmly defend multilateralism, oppose unilateralism and protectionism, maintain the multilateral trade system, implement the Trade Facilitation Agreement and help landlocked developing countries better integrate into the world trade system, he said. More must be done to connect landlocked developing countries and transit countries. Under the Belt and Road Initiative, China is actively cooperating with landlocked developing countries and will continue to support their efforts in infrastructure, trade, digital industry and energy.
MARIA ANGELA ZAPPIA (Italy), associating herself with the European Union, said that there is an evident need to increase efforts related to the main areas of the Vienna Programme of Action with priority given to four lines of action. Advancing regional integration is essential as neighboring transit countries are key partners for export and constitute potential end-markets for products. Improving landlocked developed countries access to electricity and renewable energy sources is a prerequisite for any meaningful sustainable development strategy, she said, reporting that Italy has consolidated experience in strengthening the capabilities of these countries in Africa, including a solar project in Zambia. The private sector’s role is also important. Landlocked developing States must be supported in managing complex investment-related negotiations, she said, recalling that Italy provides legal and professional assistance to these countries on such matters. Investing in education and training is also fundamental; it would facilitate the required increase in labor productivity and open new possibilities for landlocked developing States.
MARC-ANDRA� BLANCHARD (Canada), noting uneven global development, said landlocked developing countries face severe structural impediments and negative impacts due to climate change. However, new technologies offer opportunities for these countries. Canada is engaged in development efforts in Ethiopia, Afghanistan and Mali. All sources of finance must be mobilized to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, he said, adding that Canada is establishing new innovative partnerships which catalyse private sector capital with that aim. Observing the need to develop infrastructure projects in landlocked developing countries, he said Canada’s support to the Closing the Investment Gap initiative helps develop critical infrastructures around the world. In addition, Canada has extended duty-free treatment to imports from least developed countries, in order to promote economic growth, he said.
MUTOTWE KAFWAYA, Minister for Transport and Communications of Zambia, said that the Government has launched a new transport policy to transform the country into a regional transport and logistics hub. This is to be achieved through the development of the transport corridors in the subregion for Southern Africa, he added. Zambia has also significantly invested in both the development and rehabilitation of infrastructure in several sectors including renewable energy, water and sanitation systems, ICT, and transport. The Government is planning to diversity the economy including in the mining, agriculture, tourism, and manufacturing areas. We have developed our first ever industrial policy which aims to improve our productive capacity and promote the production and consumption of local content, he added, welcoming the adoption of the Political Declaration. Zambia looks forward to continued and expanded support from its development partners.
MOHAMMAD AAMIR KHAN (Pakistan), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, expressed worry that progress in the priority areas of the Vienna Programme of Action remains mixed. One third of the population of landlocked developing countries continue to live in poverty and such countries still account for less than one per cent of global merchandise trade. As such, he called for a structural and economic transformation in the global financial and connectivity architecture. As a transit country, Pakistan has made significant steps and efforts to help landlocked developing countries. In 2010, the Government signed the Pakistan Afghanistan Transit Trade Agreement, he recalled, noting that the trade volume from this corridor in 2018 2019 has been $5.52 million. Pakistan has also joined China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which promotes transnational connectivity and facilitates cooperation. The China Pakistan economic corridor is a central part of that network and is the fastest and most effective among all projects in the initiative. As such, it is expected to improve the lives of an estimated 3 billion people in the region.
MOHAMMAD KURNIADI KOBA (Indonesia), associating himself with the Group of 77, said his country stands ready to work with the United Nations and others to turn landlocked developing countries into land linked States. The international community must provide more resources to such countries, including through ODA, foreign direct investment, and South South and triangular cooperation. Technical assistance and capacity development support should continue, based on the needs and priorities of each recipient country, he said, adding that such support should include the promotion of innovation and technology as well as better access to financing.
ANA SILVIA RODRA GUEZ ABASCAL (Cuba), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, called on the international community to provide special attention to the six priority areas of the Vienna Programme of Action, including increased funding, technology transfer, capacity strengthening and alliance promotion. Calling for a new international economic order which is just and fair, she said all countries must honour their ODA responsibilities and develop more ambitious goals to mitigate climate change. She supported the universal right to development based on mutual respect, with common but differentiated responsibilities, taking into account the particular vulnerabilities of landlocked developing countries. In closing, she reaffirmed Cuba’s commitment to South South cooperation as it relates to the achievement of the Vienna action programme.
MHER MARGARYAN (Armenia) said that as a landlocked developing country, Armenia strongly advocates regional and subregional cooperation and connectivity through trade and transport. In developing regional connectivity, Armenia is guided by the principles of inclusivity, transparency, equal and non discriminatory partnership. Despite the volatile situation in the region, his country continues to develop its transit potential as a corridor between Europe and Asia. With a high rate of Internet penetration and a rapidly growing ICT industry, Armenia has ensured open and affordable Internet access nationwide. However, the continuing land blockade of Armenia’s borders by its neighbours from the West and East multiplies the challenges arising from landlockedness. Attempts to isolate Armenia violate the principles of international law and directly contradict the spirit of the 2030 Agenda. Construction of regional transport corridors, circumventing a particular country, not only doesn’t promote regional connectivity and cooperation, but solidifies the dividing lines, he stated.
LUIS GALLEGOS CHIRIBOGA (Ecuador), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, expressed concern that landlocked developing countries’ share of global exports shrank 18 per cent from 2014 to 2019 and employment levels slid from 27 per cent in 2015 to 25.5 per cent in 2017. Paraguay and Bolivia have made efforts to improve the transport infrastructure and connectivity. There have also been initiatives in the Latin American region to bridge the digital divide and improve access to financing. Ecuador faces various challenges such as ending poverty, hunger, inequality; protecting human rights; and promoting sustainable growth. He noted with concern the actions by various national and international actors in October that promoted unrest and a coup d’etat in his country. The damage to facilities and businesses resulting from those protests amounted to billions of dollars. He reiterated his Government’s commitment to international law, good governance, and the rule of law. It is our duty to build peaceful societies where frank and open dialogue are the tools to solve disputes and disagreement, he added.
Ms. WARD (Botswana) said that implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement and the development of infrastructure are essential to mitigate the challenges landlocked developing countries face in connecting to global markets. Under the national development plan, her country is pursuing strategies for regional cooperation in infrastructure development and integration to create more active trade routes. Botswana, Namibia and South Africa have developed the Trans Kalahari Corridor, a highway aimed at facilitating faster and cheaper movement of goods among the three countries. His country and Zambia are also constructing the Kazungula bridge to facilitate trade among the regional economic communities, namely the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the East African Countries. In addition, the development of the Trans Kalahari rail line linking Namibia and Zambia would reduce transport costs and give Botswana access to regional and global markets.
ISBETH LISBETH QUIEL MURCIA (Panama), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, said that despite progress towards achieving the Vienna action programme, additional efforts are required to address the special needs of landlocked countries as they face severe impediments to becoming integrated in the global trading system. Those efforts must include financial resource mobilization, generating reliable data to inform new policies and technical assistance for capacity building. The international community must increase its support for development assistance and strengthen South South cooperation. For Panama, quality infrastructure and connectivity play a key role in development, she emphasized, also highlighting the importance of establishing strategic partnerships to close gaps between countries.
NAGARAJ NAIDU KAKANUR (India), associating himself with the Group of 77, said landlocked developing countries have been prevented from integrating into the global trading system by factors including geographical remoteness, high transport and transit costs, and weak customs infrastructure. As a fellow developing country, India remains committed to offering its support and experience to landlocked developing States as a transit country. He cited the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal Initiative, a measure improving economic cooperation and transport connectivity between those States, as well as India Nepal and India Bhutan trade and air services agreements and the India Afghanistan direct air freight corridor. In the spirit of South South cooperation, India launched the $150 million India United Nations Development Partnership Fund, which aims to drive transformational projects and fulfil the Sustainable Development Goals in least developed and landlocked developing countries.
The representative of the Russian Federation said that, as a major transit nation, his country actively contributes to the Vienna Programme of Action, including through a package of measures to develop projects in Eurasia, from the North-South trade route, the Europe to Western China route and another route running from the Arctic through Siberia to Asia. The objective of these projects is to link the northern sea route to ports in the Indian and Pacific oceans. Moreover, the Government aims to increase the carrying capacity of the Trans-Siberian railroad network to 100 million tonnes by 2024. In September 2018, intergovernmental agreements between Russia, China and Mongolia entered into force, he said, adding that China’s One Road One Belt initiative echoes the Russian Federation’s idea to establish a major Eurasian partnership closely linking various integration projects in the region.
The representative of Lesotho, associating herself with the Group of 77 and the landlocked developing countries, said his country has been implementing a medium-term five-year national strategic development plan while developing a subsequent strategy to cover the period up to 2023. Such efforts intend to achieve long-term national, regional and international development frameworks. Likewise, priorities of the Vienna Programme of Action are mainstreamed into the second plan to enhance economic competitiveness and improve trade facilitation for employment creation. Lesotho fully endorses the elements of the Political Declaration and is hopeful that priorities will be met and duly reported at the United Nations Conference on Landlocked Developing Countries in 2024.
The representative of Eritrea, noting that 17 of 32 landlocked States are least developed countries, some with large populations, said the physical, economic and infrastructural challenges are often compounded by the fact that their transit neighbours are also tackling similar challenges. The Horn of Africa region has gone through tremendous transformations since 2018, with new developments shaping the momentum for regional economic integration, including the implementation of the priorities set in the Vienna Programme of Action. The region is determined and committed to working together to transform itself into the new frontier of the global economy. Addressing implementation issues regarding the Programme of Action would require eliminating obstacles that prevent millions living in landlocked developing countries to achieve their aspirations for a higher standard of living.
The representative of Zimbabwe said that, despite progress in several key areas of the Vienna Programme of Action, including harmonizing transport and transit procedures, developing infrastructure and expanding trade, the global economic scenario remains bleak, with growing turbulence in emerging economies. Reporting on national developments, she said a recently launched transitional stabilization programme includes corporate and governance reforms that aim at transforming Zimbabwe into an upper middle class economy by 2030. The mantra of the new leadership is Zimbabwe is open for business, she said, adding that the country’s location at the heart of the North South transport corridor gives it a natural geographical advantage. However, recent droughts have left more than 5 million people food insecure, she pointed out, condemning the unjustified sanctions imposed by some Member States.
BAKHTIYOR IBRAGIMOV (Uzbekistan) said Central Asian countries have been able to create a fundamentally new political environment in recent years, raising the level of trust and strengthening neighbourly relations. Uzbekistan’s trade turnover with other Central Asian countries has doubled, and the Government is focused on expanding cooperation in trade, investment, transport and energy sectors, he said, highlighting the importance of regional collaboration, particularly in addressing ecological and water issues. Turning to the situation in Afghanistan, he said Uzbekistan provides comprehensive assistance to its economic recovery and trade, establishing an international logistical centre at its shared border to assist increasing export-import and transit cargo flows.
The representative of Mongolia, noting that landlocked developing countries continue to remain largely marginalized in global trade, said their combined share in global exports declined from 1.2 per cent in 2014 to 0.98 percent in 2018, with commodities accounting for the bulk of exports. Recalling that Mongolia initiated the establishment of the first ever international think tank dedicated to landlocked developing countries, he said her country also launched a national working group in 2019 to coordinate the implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action. Further, the Government is developing domestic infrastructure initiatives, including by connecting all the provinces through energy transmission lines, Internet networks and 6,000 kilometres of paved roads.
The representative of Chile said his country grants broad and free rights for trade transit across its territory to its closest landlocked neighbour, Bolivia. In this context, Chile provides free warehousing in its ports, preferential tariffs, tax exemptions and an oil pipeline, also focusing on road, port and border infrastructure. Rights granted by this free transit regime must be exercised in accordance with the domestic legal system of the transit country. Chile has free warehousing available for Paraguay as well and has expressed interest in a bio-oceanic corridor from Brazil crossing Paraguay and Argentina. Chile has also been party to the WTO’s trade facilitation agreement since 2017, having established a national committee on the issue.
OMAR HILALE (Morocco) said strengthening partnerships with landlocked developing countries remains at the heart of his country’s foreign policy, including projects undertaken with an approach based on solidarity and South-South cooperation. The King of Morocco has visited several African landlocked countries, bringing new momentum for cooperation, he recalled. In March, Morocco hosted the mid-term Vienna Programme of Action review conference for Africa in Marrakech, providing an opportunity to assess progress achieved on the continent and to define measures to speed up the agreement’s implementation. He appealed to the international community to support North-South, South-South and triangular cooperation, also calling for greater solidarity towards landlocked countries.
The representative of Mexico said that being a landlocked developing country should not be an obstacle to achieving the 2030 Agenda, but these nations warrant special attention. While Mexico is not part of this group of countries, it is no stranger to the challenges they face, including challenges related to economic diversification. In the context of a slowing economic growth scenario, it is essential to boost trade and harness the opportunities technology presents. For example, technology can help better facilitate the transactions of remittances, which remain a great source of income for landlocked developing countries and a critical vehicle to boost their sustainable development. He underscored the need to support landlocked developing countries, including with North South and South South cooperation. Isolation from global markets is not compatible with development targets laid out in the 2030 Agenda, he said, reiterating Mexico’s support for the Vienna Programme of Action.
COURTNEY NEMROFF (United States) said that despite challenges such as transit policy issues, international trade and regional integration, there has been substantial progress in many landlocked developing States. Sweeping reforms like the African Continental Free Trade Area promise to open markets, lower trade and investment barriers lay the groundwork for greater competitiveness and economic growth for the 16 landlocked developing countries on the continent. At the same time, development assistance is no substitute for economic growth led by private enterprise, and sustainable development requires both public and private sectors to work together to identify and address challenges. While lending and private investment are becoming increasingly accessible to developing countries, these inflows can come with risks, such as a lack of transparency and unsustainable borrowing. Countries with weak institutions, high levels of corruption, and macroeconomic challenges are particularly vulnerable. That is why increased debt transparency and fiscal discipline, along with strong governance, are essential for landlocked developing countries, she said.
The representative of Argentina said that, as a transit corridor for Bolivia and Paraguay, his country enjoys collaborative relationships with both nations. In terms of inland waterway transit, Argentina has been developing the Paraguay Parana Waterway Project, which seeks operational improvements in its condition. Argentina has jurisdiction over 1,240 km of the waterway and has signed a series of agreements establishing a normative system regulating transport through protocols and regulations, holding a bilateral round table with Paraguay and planning for a similar mechanism with Bolivia. Within the context of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), several measures have been implemented to facilitate trade, allowing for a simplification of imports, exports and transit processes.
TAYE ATSKE SELASSIE (Ethiopia), associating himself with the Group of 77, outlined several recent developments, including special attention given to labour intensive and light manufacturing sectors, such as agroprocessing, leather and textiles, and the establishment of industrial parks that simplify access to land and eliminate challenges surrounding trade logistics and customs services. Ethiopia has also been investing in building infrastructure, with the objective of enhancing productive capacities and promoting regional integration. Along with working with neighbouring transit countries to establish and maintain effective transit systems of common interest, Ethiopia has diversified its sea outlets and is promoting regional integration. For example, it joined the African Continental Free Trade Area and is preparing to join the WTO. To maintain this momentum, the Government is creating a 10-year plan to focus on structural economic transformation and ensure inclusive and sustainable development, in addition to boosting exports, and will mainstream targets set out in the Sustainable Development Goals and other global programmes, such as the Vienna Programme of Action.
MIRGUL MOLDOISAEVA (Kyrgyzstan) said a national development plan incorporates the Vienna Programme of Action, with provisions aimed at doubling exports by 2023 alongside agreements with 20 countries for international transit mechanisms. Regional cooperation in Central Asia has reached a new level, with countries working together to overcome border issues, liberalize trade rules, harmonize legal systems, promote security and enhance highway and railway connections. Citing other efforts, she said transregional energy trade is being promoted, with a major project to facilitate energy export from Central Asia to Southern Asia. In addition, Kyrgyzstan joined the Eurasian Economic Community (EEC) in 2015, representing a prime example of successful cooperation as it has gained duty-free access to European Union countries on many goods. Having joined a think tank on related issues, Kyrgyzstan initiated the establishment of the Group of Friends of Mountainous Countries to address development challenges. For future progress, procedures for trade, transit and movement of commodities and services must be simplified, she said, also calling for the full implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action and additional initiatives to ensure adequate support for landlocked countries.
VALENTINE RUGWABIZA (Rwanda), citing President Paul Kagame’s message that geography should not be seen as an excuse for underdevelopment, said her country has chosen to invest in existing opportunities, with encouraging results. By tripling its GDP between 2000 and 2018, it has achieved all but one of the Millennium Development Goals, she said, noting that there is no substitute for responsible political leadership. Highlighting the importance of regional integration and infrastructure connectivity for landlocked developing countries, she said examples include the East African road network project, the operationalization of one stop border posts, joint railway projects and the Single African Air Transport Market. Effective implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action, however, will require tackling ongoing challenges, including financial constraints in implementing large and capital intensive infrastructure projects, addressing geopolitical uncertainties and coordinating regional projects in ways that satisfy Member States’ interests, she said, adding that the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development can play an important role in capacity building, technical support and project financing.
LAZARUS O AMAYO (Kenya), associating himself with the Group of 77, said a dependence on transiting through other countries coupled with cumbersome border-crossing procedures and inadequate transit infrastructure means landlocked developing countries face almost double transport and trade transaction costs than coastal countries. Strengthened cooperation between landlocked and transit countries must aim at reducing these high costs. In addition, the sustainable development of landlocked developing countries is particularly important for Africa, as 16 of the 32 landlocked developing countries are on the continent. The African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement, which entered into force in May, is expected to have a transformative impact, ease the free movement of people, goods and services, and transform Africa into a seamless investment and growth platform.
Statement by Nepal to come.
Statement by Sri Lanka to come.
Statement by Fiji to come.
Statement by the United Kingdom to come.
ADONIA AYEBARE (Uganda), emphasizing that the Vienna Programme of Action dovetails with his country’s own development agenda, highlighted the progress in several areas. Among gains were launching in 2018 the issuance of East African Community passports to facilitate the free movement of people, and establishing a regional electronic cargo tracking system that serves Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda, which has halved cargo transit times. More roads in Uganda are paved, a standard gauge railway is under development and crucial infrastructure is being fast-tracked in preparation for oil production. At the regional level, Uganda was among the first to sign the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement, he said, adding that the national Coffee 2020 Road Map aims at boosting production while also improving the livelihoods of 1.2 million households. Noting that the Vienna Programme of Action has been instrumental in guiding Uganda’s development agenda, he called on all relevant stakeholders to boost national efforts to put its priority strategy areas into place.
Statement by South Africa to come.
Statement by Mali to come.
Statement by Brazil to come.
ODBAYAR ERDENETSOGT, Executive Director of the International Think Tank for Landlocked Developed Countries, explaining the intergovernmental organization’s structure and functions, said 14 nations have acceded or ratified the multilateral agreement that created it: Afghanistan, Armenia, Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Mongolia, Nepal, Paraguay, Tajikistan, Niger and Azerbaijan. Working closely with United Nations system organizations on a wide range of issues, the think tank has held several events, including a workshop in 2018 with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)on a subregional workshop, and an interregional meeting on innovation and capacity building in 2019 with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and Mongolia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Intellectual Property Office. He looks forward to the Member States’ recommendations and guidance for a coherent approach to carrying out the think tank’s agenda, especially regarding the 2030 Agenda and the Vienna Programme of Action.
Statement by the International Renewable Energy Agency to come.
Statement by the African Development Bank to come.
Source: united Nations