New York: 24 July 2006: Strengthening regional cooperation with transit countries is key to the economic progress of landlocked developing countries (LLDCs), according to a new study launched today by the UN Office for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS).
The report entitled,”Geography Against Development – A Case for Landlocked Developing Countries” highlights the specific problems facing LLDCs primarily because of their relative isolation from world markets.
Co-written by United Nations Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for LLDCs, Mr. Anwarul K. Chowdhury and Senior Programme Officer for LLDCs, Sandogdorj Erdenebileg, the study emphasizes that although LLDCs occupy 12.5 percent of the world’s total surface area, this group of 31 countries account for just 2 percent of the developing world’s total GDP. Sixteen of the 31 countries are classified as least developed, and the 2005 Human Development Index records that 10 of the 20 lowest-ranking countries are landlocked.
The study points out that the physical distance LLDCs have to overcome before reaching international trade routes predictably affects transport costs, which are substantially higher than those of transit and coastal countries. Moreover, since LLDCs exports are predominantly low-value bulky commodities, freight costs are often burdensome in relation to the low value of LLDC exports.
Speaking to some 100 delegates attending the launch, Mr. Chowdhury said that while high transit transport costs hampered trade prospects, poor infrastructure further complicated developmental efforts in LLDCs
“Fourteen of the 31 LLDCs invest less than 1 percent of their gross national product in the transport sector. Coastal developing countries have more than three times the stock of paved roads than LLDCs. Improving and sustaining the physical infrastructure of LLDCs is crucial in developing the economies of these marginalized countries,” said the High Representative.
He pointed out that closer economic cooperation between landlocked developing countries and transit countries was essential to ensure the development of LLDCs, pointing out that a framework for such cooperation had already been established in 2003 during the Ministerial Conference of Landlocked and Transit Developing Countries in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
“The Almaty Programme is the blueprint for the international community to address the special developmental needs of landlocked developing countries. We hope that this publication, ‘Geography Against Development’ will help promote awareness in the international community of the serious constraints facing LLDCs,” said Mr. Chowdhury.
The Almaty Programme emphasizes that efficient transit transport systems can be established through genuine partnerships between landlocked and transit developing countries and their development partners at the national, sub regional, regional and global level, while stressing partnerships between public and private sectors.