The midterm review of the Almaty Programme of Action was held by the General Assembly during two days of high-level plenary meetings, on 2 and 3 October 2008. The midterm review was organized to assess progress, lessons learned and constraints encountered in the first five years of the Almaty Programme implementation.
The opening of the high-level plenary was addressed by:
The high-level meeting also featured a panel discussion on the "Role of International Support in establishing efficient transit transport systems to expand trade opportunities for LLDCs". Mr. Cheick Sidi Diarra, USG and High Representative, moderated the discussion.
Presentations were made by the following representatives of international and regional organizations:
Mr. Bernard Hoekman, Director Trade Department, World Bank
Mr. Habib Ouane
, Director of the Division for Africa, Least Developed Countries and Special Programmes, UNCTAD
Mr. Robert Schoellhammer
, Deputy Resident Director General of North American Representative Office, Asian Development Bank
The representative of the African Development Bank
, who could not attend the high-level panel, sent his statement for circulation. The Executive Director of AITIC
made a statement during the high-level panel.
While landlocked and transit developing countries bore the primary responsibility for building transport systems to improve their trade position and bring in needed investment, speakers in the General Assembly during the two-day midterm review meeting urged development partners and international organizations alike to support those efforts in a spirit of shared responsibility.
With that in mind, General Assembly delegations adopted a consensus resolution containing a Declaration that recognized the particularly severe economic and social limits imposed on landlocked countries by their geography. The Assembly encouraged landlocked and transit developing countries to allocate a greater share of their public investment to transit transport infrastructure, supported, as appropriate, by investment from donors, international financial institutions and development assistance agencies. Improvement of those facilities should be integrated into overall development strategies.
In its Declaration, the Assembly stressed that accession of landlocked and transit developing countries to the World Trade Organization be accelerated, and that development partners provide assistance in that matter. As high trade transaction costs kept many landlocked developing countries from participating in world trade, the Assembly urged, inter alia, that current talks on market access for agricultural and non-agricultural goods consider products of interest to such countries.
To accelerate implementation of the Almaty Programme, the Assembly called on landlocked and transit developing countries to undertake a set of actions, including to promote learning lessons from existing regional infrastructure initiatives; further strengthen legal frameworks for transit transport operations; promote inter-railway cooperation; effectively implement trade facilitation measures, including regional customs transit schemes; and consider the possibility of granting duty-free zones at maritime ports.
For their part, donors and multilateral, regional, financial and development institutions were called on to provide substantial technical and financial assistance, notably in the form of grants or concessionary loans. Also, development partners in particular, were urged to put into action the Aid for Trade Initiative, which would help diversify exports by supporting small and medium-sized enterprises.