NEW YORK, 28 August (UN Headquarters) – Mongolian President Nambar Enkhbayar has told a ministerial meeting of the Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) on trade and trade facilitation in the Mongolian capital, Ulaanbaatar that it is imperative for LLDCs to scrupulously consider issues critical to their situation so that they could identify and formulate their common and stronger position at the end of the meeting. To that end, he was happy to note that those issues, including the freedom of transit, trade facilitation, expeditious cross-border exchange of goods, and simplification of customs procedures have been placed high on the agenda of the multilateral trade negotiations.
In remarks welcoming participants in the four-day meeting of ministers of trade and high level officials from LLDCs and transit developing countries being held from 28-31 August 2007, Mr. Enkhbayar said that transport is a critically important issue for the LLDCs, asserting that in the 21st century the freedom of transit transportation should no longer be left at the mercy of bilateral favoritism, but rather it should develop into a fully-fledged international mechanism based on a multilateral agreement. From this premise, Mongolia, along with the like-minded WTO members, has proposed to develop a multilateral agreement based on the GATT Article V, he said.
He said in order to maximize the efficiency of their coordinated efforts and effectively implement the provisions of such important documents that reflect their common interests and objectives as the Almaty Program of Action, the Sao Paolo Consensus, the Asuncion Platform and the Declaration of the First Summit of the LLDCs held in Havana, they needed to enhance their analytical capacity. To that end, he proposed setting up an international think-tank of LLDCs in Ulaanbaatar.
Addressing the same meeting today, Cheikh Sidi Diarra, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS), said high transport costs, compounded by delays, fees, cumbersome border crossing and customs procedures, and other regulatory constraints constitute the greatest impediment to Landlocked Developing Countries’ trade competitiveness and equitable access to global markets.
Mr. Diarra said that since the early nineties, the share of LLDCs’ exports in world trade has remained dismal and substantially unchanged, amounting to less than 1 per cent.
Among the ten worst performers worldwide in terms of number of days it takes to complete export procedures, nine are landlocked developing countries, he pointed out.
Mr. Diarra told the meeting -- his first official mission since assuming the functions of UN High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States at the beginning of this month -- that the way to counterbalance the negative impact of long intercontinental distances is for LLDCs to make focused efforts to enhance the efficiency of the transit transport systems, in partnership with their transit neighbours and with the support of the international community. The UN Almaty Programme of Action, he pointed out, identifies the key to attaining this objective as taking measures to halt and reverse the deterioration of physical infrastructure in landlocked and transit developing countries, while supporting policy and institutional reforms at the national and regional levels to overcome the non-physical barriers that inhibit their external trade growth.
“Regional cooperation in trade facilitation will require political will, good governance, improved peace and security, and compliance with agreements reached at the regional and sub-regional levels”, Mr. Diarra told the meeting.
Other speakers at meeting included Mongolia’s Minister for Industry and Trade Davaadorj Tseren; Xuan Zengpei, Director of the Trade and Investment Division of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP);Gilbert Houngbe, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for Africa; and Rigoberto Gauto, head of the Paraguayan delegation, Coordinator on Trade and Development of the LLDCs Group.
The Ulaanbaatar meeting is expected to be the last of two thematic meetings in 2007 to provide inputs to the UN General Assembly’s midterm review of the implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action for LLDCs scheduled for 2008.
For further information, please contact Derrick Ed Bwalya, Information Officer, Office of the Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS).
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