New York, 14 September 2006: The obstacles facing nations without coasts came under the spotlight as the first summit of Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) got underway in Havana, Cuba today.
At the inaugural session of the summit, Peoples Democratic Republic of Laos President Choumaly Sayasone called on the international community to demonstrate more solidarity for the 31 states in the group, which account for 70 percent of developing countries in the world and have a constant struggle against poverty and for sustainable development.
Cuban Vice President Esteban Lazo seconded President Sayasone’s mention of the urgent need for donor countries to increase assistance, noting that they have not received the help they demand and need.
Vice President Lazo affirmed that LLDCs represent only 0.3 percent of the world’s GDP and barely receive 0.34 percent of direct foreign investment.
In his speech, Mongolian President Mr. N.Enkhayar noted that his country had been making efforts to bring forward the special interests of the LLDCs on the international level.
Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs KP Sharma Oli told the meeting that the full, timely and effective implementation of the Almaty Declaration and Almaty Programme of Action, Asuncion Platform for the Doha Development Round and Sao Paulo Consensus is a must to address the challenges faced by LLDCs.
Mr. KP Shrama Oli urged fellow LLDCs to work together to persuade the trading partners to make trade fair, rules-based and predictable and also underscored the need for the international community to take into account the problems faced by the LLDCs in WT0 negotiations on market access.
Mr. Anwarul K. Chowdhury, UN Under Secretary-General and High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing pointed out that the 2003 Almaty Programme of Action was the first ever UN programme tailored to address the special needs of landlocked developing countries – saying that the programme provided a “win-win solution” for landlocked and transit developing countries.
The main objective of the Almaty Programme is to facilitate LLDCs in their progressive participation in the international trading system. “Increased trade opportunities created by further global trade liberalization and improved multilateral trade rules are an important element for development opportunities,” Under Secretary-General Chowdhury highlighted.
The High Representative noted that customs costs in nations without direct access to the sea are the highest, and delays at their borders account for more than half of such delays in freight transport.
He said, “The cost of customs procedures and transport represents the single greatest cost in external trade and is higher than tariffs for goods from landlocked developing countries. Customs and other border crossing procedures accounted for 75 per cent of total delays.”
Under-Secretary General Chowdhury also stressed the importance of strengthening south-south cooperation.
“South-South cooperation is a tremendous force of solidarity and an efficient tool to contribute to the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals,” Chowdhury said.
The summit ended with a declaration that proposes integration in solidarity and multilateral cooperation for developing trade alternatives that are more expedient and less costly. Additionally, delegates proposed a 5-year review of the Almaty Programme in 2008.