Agenda Item 91(f): "Outcome of the Almaty International Ministerial Conference"
New York, 22 October 2003
I wish to thank you for this opportunity to introduce the Report of the Secretary-General submitted under agenda item 91(f) on the outcome of the International Ministerial Conference of Landlocked and Transit Developing Countries and Donor Countries and International Financial and Development Institutions on Transit Transport Cooperation held in Almaty last August. The report is contained in document A/58/388.
The International Ministerial Conference unanimously adopted the Almaty Ministerial Declaration and the Almaty Programme of Action: Addressing the Special Needs of Landlocked Developing Countries within a New Global Framework for Transit Transport Cooperation between Landlocked and Transit Developing Countries. The Conference achieved its goal in galvanizing international recognition and support in favour of landlocked developing countries. As a result, landlocked developing countries have obtained for the first time a United Nations Programme of Action devoted to addressing their special needs.
The Almaty Programme of Action is unique with its focus on action-oriented specific actions to be undertaken by both landlocked and transit developing countries with the support of their development partners. Its implementation would be feasible and measurable. These specific actions will be implemented in five priority areas, namely fundamental transit policy issues, infrastructure development and maintenance, international trade and trade facilitation, international support measures, and implementation and review. The Programme is a well-balanced document reflecting the interests of both landlocked and transit developing countries to provide a win-win opportunity for them in establishing efficient transit systems.
The Almaty Programme of Action recognized that one of the main causes of the marginalization of landlocked developing countries from the international trading system is high trade transaction costs. It called for enhanced and predictable market access for the exports of landlocked and transit developing countries. The Programme also took note of the request that the current negotiations in the WTO on market access for agricultural and non-agricultural goods consider giving attention to products of special interest to landlocked developing countries.
In a practical manner, the Almaty Programme identified priorities for financial and technical assistance. "Missing links" in transport network, alternative cost-effective routes, dry port projects, adjacent border points, and rehabilitation of transport infrastructure have been identified as priorities for financial assistance. Priorities for technical cooperation include promoting transit agreements, social and market-oriented transit transport policies, privatisation as well as customs training programmes.
Donor countries and multilateral financial and development institutions are encouraged in the Programme to continue their efforts to ensure the effective implementation of the commitments in the Monterrey Consensus and provide landlocked and transit developing countries with financial and technical assistance in the form of grants and/or loans on the most concessional terms possible.
In section III, the report of the Secretary-General highlighted relevant aspects of the preparatory process that preceded the International Ministerial Conference. The successful preparation for and organization of the Almaty Conference was achieved in an efficient and cost-effective manner with minimum resources and shortest lead-time. During the preparatory process, particular attention was given to the sub-regional and regional level engagement. The Office of the High Representative mobilized and coordinated the active involvement of the UN system organizations, including UNCTAD, UNDP and the Regional Commissions. The World Bank made substantive contribution to the preparatory process. These organizations actively participated in the Conference.
We can say that today we are taking the first steps in the implementation of what I would call -- the landmark Almaty Programme of Action. Allow me, therefore, to express my views on how we can move forward in our joint efforts in this regard.
- The very first step that needs to be undertaken is to get the Almaty Declaration and the Almaty Programme of Action endorsed by the General Assembly. All the UNGA agenda items relating to landlocked developing countries should now be brought together under the review process of the Almaty Programme of Action.
- One of the main reasons for the success in the process leading to Almaty was its broad based participatory approach, that included different UN agencies and international and regional/sub-regional organizations specialized in different aspects of the transit transport cooperation. The same approach should be adopted in the follow-up. Bearing this in mind my Office is working on an Implementation Plan/Roadmap of the Almaty Programme of Action. We will undertake broad consultations for this purpose with the landlocked and transit developing countries, development partners including relevant international organizations. I am scheduled to visit the World Bank next Monday to kick off the consultations on how to move ahead. The Implementation Plan will be considered and adopted at the Inter-agency consultative meeting that will be convened in January in cooperation with the Secretariat of the UN system Chief Executives Board for Coordination. My Office will also convene an experts meeting to prepare a methodology to monitor the implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action.
- The role of the World Bank and that of the regional development banks will be crucial in implementing the Almaty Programme. We will need to work with them very closely to determine what funding and technical assistance they can contribute towards implementation of the Programme.
- The Almaty Programme of Action paid particular attention to the sub-regional level implementation. In paragraph 48 of the Almaty Programme, it was decided that specific sub-regional meetings should be organized and my Office was requested to provide support to the landlocked and transit developing countries in this regard together with other relevant international organizations in accordance with our respective mandate. These consultations should build-up a broad consensus on specific actions at the sub-regional levels and methodologies, including indicators, to monitor the implementation at the sub-regional level. Efforts at the sub-regional level must rely on active and well-coordinated involvement of the relevant international, regional and sub-regional organizations. Here I would like to emphasize the particular role of the UN Regional Commissions and the sub-regional integration organizations. My Office will make efforts to mobilize and coordinate resources and involvement of these organizations in the process.
- Another priority for immediate action is international trade. Recently, landlocked and transit developing countries showed real solidarity in promoting their interest, acting effectively in concert, notably on the issues of market access for agricultural and non-agricultural goods. The landlocked and transit developing countries should redouble their efforts within the context of the resumption of the Doha Round of trade negotiations following the recent setback in Cancun. Landlocked and transit developing countries should avail of the benefits from technical cooperation and capacity building programmes offered by the relevant UN organizations and the WTO.
- The implementation process of the priorities one and two should start also immediately. Here, I would like to single out the importance of the reconstruction of "missing links" in the regional and sub-regional transport networks. I would also underscore the need for increased efforts aimed at further improving the efficiency of the use of existing transport facilities through simplification, harmonization and standardization of border crossing procedures and documentation as well as greater use of information technology. In the latter context, my Office will initiate major efforts, in cooperation with the Office of Legal Affairs of the United Nations and other relevant multilateral organizations, to promote international conventions in the area of transit trade and transport. These are two implementable actions that should be pursued vigorously because they would yield considerable improvements with relatively less resources.
- In the process of implementing the Almaty Programme, we must do everything we can to mobilize the support of all the concerned multilateral and regional organizations. The Programme, in particular its paragraphs 48, 49 and 50, provided the Office of the High Representative with the broad mandate to coordinate UN system-wide efforts, mobilize international support measures and undertake advocacy to ensure well-coordinated and effective follow-up of the Almaty Programme of Action. We will do everything possible to live up to this trust and confidence reposed by the international community on my Office.
I thank you very much for your attention. I wish every success in your deliberations.
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