Commited to Almaty programme of action, Mins pledge to address needs

7thSpace Interactive (press release), NY
Published on: 2008-10-04


Outcome of High-Level Review Must Inspire `Our Sense of Solidarity’

To Bolster Infrastructure Development, Market Access, Assembly
President Says

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 today urged development partners and international
organizations alike to support those efforts in a spirit of shared

With that in mind, 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, capping a two-day High-Level Midterm Review of the 2003
Almaty Programme of Action. The Programme, adopted by a ministerial
conference held in the Kazakh city for which it is named, outlines
specific measures to help landlocked countries and their transit
country neighbours bolster development and cooperation.

By the Declaration, 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.

Further by the text, 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 that current talks on market access for agricultural
and non-agricultural goods consider products from such countries.

To accelerate implementation of the Almaty action plan, 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 by the Declaration, 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.

Throughout the two-day Review session, speakers pointed to national
and other efforts as proof they were taking their duties to
heart. Today, Thailand’s representative said his country had
cooperated in developing transport links with neighbouring countries
through regional, subregional and bilateral agreements. To ease
transit transport and eliminate non-physical barriers, Thailand had
given special privileges to its neighbours by exempting customs on
commercial goods that moved through the country. Regional transport
links were also a priority, as seen in the development of the
East-West, North-South and Southern Economic Corridors under the Great
Mekong Subregion framework.

Speaking from the perspective of a transit country, the representative
of Pakistan underscored his Government’s commitment to providing easy,
efficient and expeditious transit access to its landlocked neighbours,
to help them expand their international trade. Making Pakistan a
regional transit hub was an integral part of its national vision for
its trade and transport sector.

For example, Pakistan’s National Trade Corridor Program aimed to
improve and upgrade its existing logistics and transport
infrastructure, including its highways and rail systems. It had also
begun on constructing new road networks, seaports, airports and other
related facilities. In the services sector, Pakistan was revamping its
customs procedures, including the introduction of the Custom Reform
Project, he said.

In his closing remarks, General Assembly President Miguel d’Escoto
Brockmann of Nicaragua said the `balanced and precise’ Declaration
provided guidance to strengthening project implementation in the areas
of efficient transit transport systems and international market
access. Indeed, the Assembly’s focus on action-oriented programmes
that were `measurable and feasible’ had grounded the Review in terms
that would benefit landlocked and transit countries alike, he said. It
also served to inspire greater donor involvement in such areas as
trade assistance, infrastructure, and financial and technical

`The United Nations is all about partnerships,’ he said, underscoring
the importance of monitoring progress within the Almaty Programme’s
five stated priorities. While the work outlined in the Almaty Review
document was ambitious, it must inspire `our sense of solidarity’ with
the people of landlocked countries and their neighbours, he said.

Also speaking today were representatives of the Republic of Korea,
China, Libya, Switzerland, Ethiopia, United States, Afghanistan,
Iceland, Malawi, Burkina Faso, Italy, Iran, Russian Federation, Mali,
Egypt and Armenia.

The representative of the EuroAsian Development Bank, and the Senior
Adviser of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
spoke as observers.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Monday, 6 October,
to take up the Secretary-General’s report on the work of the


The General Assembly met today to continue and conclude its High-Level
Meeting on the Midterm Review of the Almaty Programme of Action.


PARK IN-KOOK ( Republic of Korea) recalled that five years ago in
Almaty, Kazakhstan, parties of the International Conference had set
out a comprehensive road map to assist landlocked developing
countries. The outcome document reflected the global community’s
strong commitment to address their special needs. In that regard, he
noted the Secretary-General’s assessment that, over the last five
years, landlocked developing countries had made tangible progress.

As a nation that had struggled against the poverty trap, the Republic
of Korea sympathized with landlocked developing countries’
challenges. His Government was strengthening its official development
assistance (ODA) law, and since 2000, had increased that assistance
three times in volume. The Government planned to triple ODA to more
than $3 billion by 2015, as it remained the main source of
infrastructure development in landlocked developing countries. In
addition, he said his Government had used trade as a locomotive for
economic growth, and as such, had extended duty- and quota-free access
to landlocked developing countries.

He said efficient transport infrastructure was vital for integrating
landlocked developing countries into the global trading system, but
financing gaps remained and could not be addressed without private
sector involvement. The digital divide was also a concern, and in that
regard, his Government would share technology and know-how. All in
all, the Midterm Review showed that, even with progress made, more
must be done. Landlocked developing country development required joint
efforts among landlocked developing countries, transit developing
countries and the global community.

YAO WENLONG ( China) noted his country’s first-hand experience of the
special difficulties faced by landlocked developing countries,
especially since China was a transit developing country with parts of
its territory having landlocked features. He went on to say the
landlocked developing countries had made noticeable progress in their
economic and social development in the five years since the adoption
of the Almaty Programme of Action.

The Secretary-General’s relevant report, which showed that between
2003 and 2006, gross domestic product (GDP) had risen by 8 per cent,
foreign direct investment by 11.5 per cent, and official development
assistance for those countries had grown by an annual average of 21.4
per cent -` higher than averages of the developing countries as a
group in the same period — proved that the Programme of Action had
played an important role in the promotion of economic and social
development in landlocked developing countries.

However, he said there had not been a fundamental change in the
disadvantaged position of landlocked developing countries in the world
economic system or a fundamental amelioration as to their special
difficulties, such as inefficient transport, weak infrastructure and
high trade costs. In 2007, they had accounted for less than 1 per cent
of international trade, constituted half of the 20 countries with the
lowest Human Development Index and represented 9 out of 10 countries
with the world’s highest per-container cost for import-export trade.

At this Midterm Review, he urged systematic assessment, prioritization
of future cooperation, and following up on relevant commitments, and
resolved response to new development challenges. On its part, China
proposed that the international community should focus on the
following: reaffirming political commitments by furthering the spirit
of global partnership; actively responding to challenges by meeting
new challenges as they come along; increasing development assistance
by continuing to increase the scale, sustainability and predictability
of funding; strengthening cooperation mechanisms by strengthening the
international community’s policy coordination and information sharing;
promoting economic cooperation between regional and subregional, as
well as public and private, sectors; and exploring innovative
financing mechanisms.

GIADALLAH A. ETTALHI ( Libya), recalling the United Nations Millennium
Declaration, said the Almaty Programme of Action aimed to address the
challenges landlocked and transit developing countries faced. Many
transit developing countries neighboured landlocked countries, and
bore additional burdens. The strengthening and maintenance of
effective transport systems was a major challenge borne by both
equally. Indeed, costs were often greater than the countries’
abilities, and there was no doubt that development partners could
bolster their efforts to support transport systems.

Regional cooperation could play an important role in lowering the
costs of transit transportation, notably by alleviating obstacles to
cross-border passage and easing the passage of products to nearby
markets, he said. Basic infrastructure development for transit
transport was a priority for many African countries, and he supported
policies made by the African Union, the New Partnership for Africa’s
Development (NEPAD) and other regional groupings.

Confirming the need for partnerships between landlocked developing
countries and transit developing countries within the framework of
regional integration, he also called on regional institutions to
increase aid and focus on bridging the remaining gaps that would tie
landlocked countries with the rest of the continent.

Libya supported policies that aimed to link African countries via
roads and networks, as that would help advance service sectors, and
activate trade, with other countries and international markets, he
said. Libya was exerting strong efforts to build desert roads, which
provided opportunities for economic and social stability. In closing,
he confirmed the need to support the efforts of the High
Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked
Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States to implement
the Almaty Programme, saying that the success of implementation would
help expand economic integration, which served the interests of all.

PETER MAURER ( Switzerland), stating that `Geography may be a
challenge, but geography is no destiny’, commended the progress and
success of the Almaty Declaration. He noted that the unexpected
spillover effects from emerging economies benefited some of the
landlocked countries through regional alternatives to overseas
markets. Besides the potential to help landlocked developing countries
reduce the high transport costs and dependence on transit corridors,
he hoped that the high export earnings of those emerging markets would
provide additional investment capital and regional integration of
capital markets.

To ensure the continued progress of the Declaration, Switzerland and
several landlocked developing countries had submitted a proposal
regarding article V of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade
(GATT), and focused on the issues of maintaining and protecting
freedom of transit, the discipline transit fees and charges, and
limits on certain regional and bilateral transit agreements.

Continuing, he said that the coalition of the landlocked developing
countries, as well as their partnerships with transit countries and
development partners, were further examples of the success of the
Declaration. However, he called for additional improvement. The World
Bank and United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)
needed to keep developing common and reliable indicators and monitors
as these developing economies responded to both world-market and
regional integration. He concluded stressing Switzerland’s commitment
to help landlocked developing countries `integrate into world

DESALEGN ALEMU ( Ethiopia) said, despite increased international
attention being given to landlocked developing countries through the
Almaty Programme of Action in 2003, the United Nations Conference on
Trade and Development (UNCTAD) XII and the recent United Nations panel
discussion on the matter, those countries continued to face challenges
due to their `geographical handicap’. That handicap created serious
constraints in their effort to achieve poverty reduction goals and
improve the standard of living of their populations. A lot remained to
be done to mobilize concrete support to address their economic

Continuing, he called for `realistic and suitable’ strategies by
collaborating with neighbouring coastal States to develop efficient
transport, customs and other relevant infrastructure systems in
landlocked countries. Because of their disadvantaged position, in
terms of geography and transportation, landlocked developing States
should be provided with special market access to give them leverage in
the international market. Financial and technical assistance were
required to help those States overhaul major infrastructure systems,
including railways, highways and dry ports.

It was `high time we created the conditions that would enable us to
see smooth and harmonious interplay between the Almaty Programme of
Action and the World Trade Organization aid for trade initiative’, he
said. In that regard, landlocked developing countries should strive to
seek support through improved international legal instruments. In
addition, by seeking regional liaisons, they could make sure their
efforts were not duplicated. By focusing on the diversification of
non-traditional export items and improving its communication and
transport systems, Ethiopia was taking steps to ensure its own
competitive and comparative advantage. Those were self-financed
projects that, in the future, would require assistance from
development partners. Recalling the Africa regional meeting ahead of
the review of the Almaty action plan that took place in Addis Ababa
this summer, he said concerned bodies should take the lead in
advocating and contributing to `the pumping of new resources’, to
landlocked countries.

T. VANCE McMAHAN ( United States) said the United States, through its
Millennium Challenge Corporation, was providing unprecedented levels
of assistance to important national development strategies in some 13
of the landlocked developing countries today. It was also assisting
with transfer of know-how and technology, and collaborative
institution-building. Those partnerships were aimed at broad
transformation and achieving a permanent boost to rates of economic
growth in those countries.

He said the Millennium Challenge Corporation currently had signed
large grant agreements, called compacts, with 10 landlocked developing
countries for over $1.9 billion. In Mongolia, for instance, it was
funding a $188 million project to rebuild and commercialize the
national railroad system, while another $23 million project was aimed
at strengthening the legal infrastructure for property rights near
Mongolia’s rapidly growing urban centres. In conjunction with the
Asian Development Bank, $25 million would go to establishing a
vocational training network for over 30 career paths essential to
building an urban/industrial-based economy.

Also, in Armenia, the Corporation was providing $235 million to
increase economic performance in the agricultural sector, through
strategic investments on rural roads and irrigated agriculture. That
compact would directly benefit approximately 750,000 Armenians, or 75
per cent of the country’s rural population. The Corporation was also
working with Mali to transform the country’s agricultural production,
reducing vulnerability to drought and targeting agro-processing and
higher-value crops.

Explaining that the Millennium Corporation Challenge initiative was
about helping United States development partners achieve their
national priorities, based on common values, he told the meeting that
its programmes were thus premised on the expectation that once the
foundation of accountable public management and a regulatory
environment, that encouraged private economic activity, were in place,
investment in people and infrastructure would have a permanent and
transforming impact on economic growth. He stressed that the
Corporation did not replace the United States’ traditional foreign
assistance to landlocked developing countries, but supplemented it.

ABDULLAH HUSSAIN HAROON ( Pakistan) said the unfolding global
emergency, manifested by the triple crises of food, fuel and finance,
was making the implementation challenge even more complex and
daunting, not just for the landlocked developing countries but also
their transit neighbours. An effective strategy to improve the transit
transport system was particularly relevant in the wake of increasing
commodity and oil prices.

While committed to helping landlocked developing countries with its
limited means, Pakistan believed a concerted effort was necessary to
develop policies and mechanisms which would generate the necessary
financial resources to invest in transit transport infrastructure
projects. Those investments needed increased financial assistance from
development partners, donor countries, and international financial and
development institutions. In addition, he said that an early
completion of the Doha Round of World Trade Organization negotiations
that would be oriented towards development was necessary. A successful
round that would remove the distortions in the global trading regime
and provide enhanced market access, particularly for landlocked
developing countries, had never been more urgently needed. The
sustained impasse in those talks was alarming, he added.

As a transit developing country, Pakistan actively participated in the
implementation of the Almaty Programme and was committed to providing
easy, efficient and expeditious transit access to its landlocked
neighbours, to help them expand their international trade. Making
Pakistan a regional transit hub was an integral part of its national
vision for its trade and transport sector. For example, Pakistan’s
National Trade Corridor Program aimed to improve and upgrade its
existing logistics and transport infrastructure, including its
highways and rail systems. It had also begun on constructing new road
networks, seaports, airports and other related facilities. In the
services sector, Pakistan was revamping its customs procedures,
including the introduction of the Custom Reform Project, he said.

ZAHIR TANIN (Afghanistan) said that, while many landlocked developing
and transit countries had, with the help of their development
partners, achieved certain progress towards realization of the Almaty
Programme of Action since its adoption five years ago, due to a
variety of impediments they had faced, many such countries, including
Afghanistan, had not yet been able to fully use trade as an effective
instrument to achieve their development goals.

He said that Afghanistan had been able to address many challenges in
meeting the Almaty objectives, notably with much-needed international
and regional community support. While appreciative of the financial
support to help improve its transport and transit infrastructure, he
regretted that a significant portion of the donor pledges had not yet
been delivered. Much of that aid was also delivered without full
regard to the goals of the Afghan Government and the Almaty Programme,
he noted, and he urged the international community to increase its
assistance in such priority areas as the regional and national road
networks, and improvements to, and modernization of, the existing
airports and dry ports.

He also noted that regional economic cooperation was becoming an
integral part of globalization strategies of almost all its
neighbours. As a result, Afghanistan now had the unique opportunity to
realize its potential as a `land bridge’ country between Central Asia,
South Asia and the West Asian region. While Afghanistan was aware of
its responsibilities towards its neighbours regarding the creation of
solid institutions and mechanisms, it would at the same time encourage
its neighbours and other countries in the region `to work with us in
similar pace and in the same spirit’, he concluded.

HJÃ?LMAR W. HANNESSON ( Iceland) said that, while there had been
various positive developments in landlocked developing countries in
recent years, and fairly consistent economic growth, the
Secretary-General’s report showed that `considerable’ effort was
needed to improve their competitiveness. Iceland was fully committed
to implementing the Almaty Programme’s five priorities, and recognized
that the specific situations of landlocked developing countries made
poverty eradication even more challenging.

He said his Government was concerned that landlocked developing
countries continued to build an unsustainable level of external
debt. Iceland was a financier of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries
(HIPC) Initiative, and the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative. More
was needed regarding development financing, and Iceland aimed to be
among the top contributors of ODA, having doubled its budget for
development cooperation in the past four years.

Noting that women played a fundamental role in development, he said
Iceland had increasingly directed development cooperation at
gender-specific projects. In closing, he said aid for trade was an
important initiative that could reduce the adverse effects of
landlocked developing countries’ geography, and it should be part of a
broader development policy for them. It was more urgent than ever that
market access for goods originating in those countries be facilitated.

CHIRACHAI PUNKRASIN ( Thailand) said that in addition to Africa, whose
development needs had been discussed in the past few weeks, the
landlocked developing countries deserved ongoing attention from the
international community. Believing that opportunity was crucial for
ensuring development and prosperity, Thailand had cooperated in
developing transport links with neighbouring countries through
regional, subregional and bilateral agreements in line with the Almaty
Programme priorities. To ease transit transport and eliminate
non-physical barriers, Thailand had given special privileges to its
neighbours by exempting customs on commercial goods moved through

With regard to infrastructure, Thailand had made the construction of
transport links within the region a priority. For example, the Asian
Highway Network had moved ahead with the development of the East-West,
North-South and Southern Economic Corridors under the Great Mekong
Subregion framework. The Singapore-Kunming Rail Link under the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Mekong Basin
Development Cooperation, once realized, would link the ASEAN members
with China, he said.

On a bilateral basis, Thailand had provided financial assistance to
its landlocked neighbour, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, as
well as Cambodia and Myanmar, for projects that would strengthen
transport connections. For example, Thailand had provided assistance
to build a road linking Huay Xai to Luang Num Tha in the Lao People’s
Democratic Republic, part of the Route 3 of the North-South Economic
Corridor under the Great Mekong Subregion framework. Thailand would
continue to actively support the development of transport links to
improve the living standards of people in the Mekong subregion. While
acknowledging the efforts of the United Nations Economic and Social
Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) in the region, he said
there was more work to be done. Thailand urged other development
partners to help develop transport connections by providing technical
and financial assistance related to infrastructure development.

STEVE D. MATENJE (Malawi) said his country, like similarly situated
countries, being both landlocked and least developed, faced daunting
challenges, not the least of which were those of rising oil costs,
lack of direct access to the sea and isolation from major
international markets. All of that resulted in prohibitive transport
costs and formidable obstacles to Malawi’s import and export
trade. Unless those challenges were addressed with urgency, landlocked
developing countries such as Malawi would remain uncompetitive in the
global economy and the development gap between them and the rest of
the world would continue to widen, resulting in their perpetual
dependence on foreign aid.

Accordingly, he urged development partners to `walk with us, and not
carry us on their shoulders’, on the journey to economic prosperity
and independence by assisting landlocked developing countries to
remove obstacles to their import and export trade in order for them to
create the much-needed wealth necessary to reduce poverty.

He said it was for that reason in fact that the United Nations adopted
the Almaty Programme of Action, as a commitment of the international
community to address the special needs of the landlocked countries as
called for in the Millennium Declaration. With that in mind, the
Malawi Growth and Development Strategy had identified transport
infrastructure development as one of the six key priority areas for
the country to achieve economic growth in the medium
term. Accordingly, the Government was vigorously pursuing a multimodal
inland transport system to improve road, rail, air and inland water
transportation with a view to facilitating internal, as well as import
and export, trade.

With regard to inland water transportation, the Governments of Malawi,
Mozambique and Zambia had concluded a Memorandum of Understanding to
develop a waterway project known as the Shire-Zambezi Waterway
Project, aimed at connecting the three countries to the sea through
the Shire River in southern Malawi and Mozambique, and the Zambezi
River in Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe, he added. The project was in
line with the Almaty Programme of Action as well as the Brussels
Programmes of Action for the Least Developed Countries, both of which
were aimed at addressing the special needs of landlocked developing
countries and least developed countries such as Malawi.

MICHEL KAFANDO (Burkina Faso), joining statements given by Mali and on
behalf of the `Group of 77′ developing countries, said 2008 had seen
unprecedented socio-economic crises, including those of food and
energy, as well as the effects of natural calamities. For landlocked
developing countries, that had translated to destruction of

The fact that landlocked developing countries were far from the sea
had caused turmoil in trade, he said. The fact that they were
landlocked was the major concern of the Almaty Programme, and he was
happy to see that the Assembly’s Review had benefited from the
conclusions of the ministerial meeting at Ouagadougou, and another
meeting in Ulaanbaatar. Those meetings had enabled States to assess
the implementation of the Programme. They had also allowed for
identifying the best measures to deal with the isolation of landlocked
countries and improving their competitiveness.

Continuing, he said he was happy with the theme’s current session,
which asked the global community to help create trade opportunities
for landlocked developing countries. Infrastructure funding was of
`capital’ importance, and he called on multilateral, bilateral and
other donors to offer support. He invited developed countries,
particularly those in the Group of Eight, to be involved in
preparations for the development financing conference at Doha, which
would sincerely review commitments made at Monterrey in 2002.

Noting that half of landlocked developing countries were in Africa, he
stressed that the meeting at Ouagadougou had launched an appeal to
public and private investors to bolster infrastructure. Concerned by
the failure of World Trade Organization trade talks, he said the lack
of consensus showed a marginalization of landlocked countries in the
trading system. He called for resuming the Doha Development Round in a
spirit of solidarity.

ALDO MANTOVANI ( Italy) welcomed and endorsed the philosophy that led
to the adoption of the Almaty Programme of Action. Between 2003 and
2008, Italy’s overall development aid to landlocked developing
countries had increased by 70 per cent, to about $250 million. Last
year, Italy had contributed $50,000 to the organization of the two
preparatory meetings in Ulaanbataar, Mongolia, and Ouagadougou,
Burkina Faso.

He said the obstacles faced by the Governments of landlocked
developing countries and transit developing countries were related
less to their geographical locations and more to complex regulatory
procedures, lack of cooperation in tackling bureaucratic delays, and
underdeveloped logistics sectors. While significant efforts had been
made over the past five years because of the Almaty framework, much
work had to be done. Regional and subregional cooperation were also
important vehicles for implementing the Almaty Programme and relevant
organizations, especially the ones with operations on the ground, were
important stakeholders. Their continued interest and commitment was
essential to making concrete progress towards implementing the five
priorities laid down at Almaty.

The incoming Italian presidency of the Group of Eight would pay great
attention to information and communications technology for
development, he said. The development of transit transport
infrastructure was not limited to the construction and maintenance of
physical infrastructure like roads, railways, airports, ports and
pipelines. Rather, infrastructure development needed to be
complimented by an efficient and modern storage and transport
organization, logistics management systems, and integrated information
and communication networks. Bridging the digital divide, promoting
good governance, the exchange of experiences and best practices, and
the proper training and education were consistent with priority one of
the Almaty programme. Italy would promote projects fostering the
dissemination of e-government instruments aimed at improving and
speeding up complicated bureaucratic procedures, for instance in the
field of customs and logistics.

ESAAGH AL-HABIB ( Iran) said transit transport issues were of prime
importance in a globalized world, and noted that some had acknowledged
they were equated with economic growth that would help alleviate
poverty. In that regard, the establishment of effective transit
systems was a top priority for landlocked and transit developing
countries. The primary responsibility for that rested with those
countries, so that they could attract and mobilize resources for their
development. At the same time, he called for development partners and
regional organizations to be involved in line with the principle of
shared responsibility.

In addition, true and full implementation of bilateral, regional and
subregional agreements was needed, he said, explaining that the Almaty
Programme was a fundamental framework for genuine partnership between
landlocked and transit developing countries, and their partners. For
its part, Iran had taken actions to speed implementation of the Almaty
Programme by working with the Economic and Social Commission for Asia
and the Pacific to set up two workshops focusing on rail and road
transit transport. Further, Iran was making efforts to continue
implementation of measures to ease customs formalities and grant
duty-free zones at maritime free ports, among other things.

Iran was among the most important transit developing countries, and
the development and maintenance of its transit routes presented
challenges, which, if not addressed, might inhibit
cooperation. Moreover, infrastructure maintenance required more
assistance from donors and international financial institutions. In
closing, he said addressing the needs of landlocked developing
countries required a holistic approach, and he invited the United
Nations, among other international and regional organizations, to
integrate the Almaty Programme into their work.

VICTOR ZAGREKOV ( Russian Federation) said globalization was impacting
all areas of society and that uneven benefits were fraught with
problems, including the areas of risk and stagnation. This was
undermining the development of the landlocked developing countries and
least developed countries. Russia had set down steps to initiate
improved transportation links and help the shipment of products of
those countries.

Russia was resolved to tackle key issues in the coming decade in
Euro-Asian transportation. It had a federal system that enhanced
transport policies and services and improved the effectiveness of the
transit of goods to neighbouring countries. Russia was dedicated to
improving the flow of traffic, including the delivery of goods and the
management of transport systems, he said.

Because of its geographical location and its expanse over a large part
of the Euro-Asian continent, Russia was a bridge between East and
West. It participated in international dialogue on that subject and
had promoted road and rail networks in Asia. Those neighbouring Asian
countries had limited access to outside markets, and Russia was
working with them to improve that situation. For example, it had
focused on helping shipping companies move containers across the
continent from Asia across Russia to the borders with Europe. It also
tried to ensure that its roads functioned without problems so regular
road shipments could move from the Russian Federation to Asia. He was
happy with the work of international organizations, particularly the
United Nations, in that area and reaffirmed Russia’s commitment to
those countries. The creation of global frameworks for effective land
transportation was also important, he added.

OUMAR DAOU ( Mali), sharing his country’s experience, said first, that
Mali, as a typical landlocked developing country, was vulnerable to
the current global crises, notably in food and energy sectors. Mali
had carried out consistent measures to improve the efficiency of
transport and transit systems, and had organized the private sector
into a consulate chamber: the Mali Shippers Council. As for the
development and maintenance of transit infrastructure, Mali had
promoted private investment for equipment and storage facilities,
carried out transport infrastructure work, and upgraded its fleet of
rail and road equipment. To facilitate trade, Mali had used
self-assessment methodologies developed by the World Bank.

Nonetheless, Mali was up against various hurdles, including numerous
tariff and non-tariff barriers, which impeded trade and raised
shipping costs, he explained. Secondary infrastructure for transport
and transit was inefficient on the borders, information systems had
not been sufficiently developed, and shipping facilities had low
storage capacity.

Faced with such hurdles, Mali had undertaken policies to reinforce
sectoral performance, notably by focusing on local capacity-building,
restructuring transport companies and upgrading shipping
infrastructure through the national transport committee. There was
also a `national week of road safety’. Mali supported the major
programmes to develop transport within the Economic Community of West
African States (ECOWAS). In closing, he said Mali was committed to all
activities to implement the Almaty action plan, and thanked the High
Representative for his efforts.

MAGED ABDELAZIZ (Egypt) highlighted different points that would
continue the economic progress of the landlocked developing countries,
among them the inclusion of those countries’ needs in the Doha trade
negotiations; more private and direct foreign investment;
international organizations and donor countries’ participation in the
Ulaanbaatar think tank initiative; a strengthening of South-South
cooperation, as well as trilateral, subregional and regional
cooperative initiatives; and developed countries fulfilling their
commitment to provide 0.15 per cent to 0.20 per cent of the gross
national index to ODA for the landlocked developing countries.

He went on to say that, as part of Egypt’s foreign policy to support
and strengthen South-South cooperation, two funds had been
established. The Egyptian Fund for Technical Cooperation for Africa
provided assistance to African countries, while The Egyptian Fund for
Technical Cooperation with the Commonwealth of Independent States, —
modified to include developing countries and landlocked developing
countries — was in the process of expanding its activities within
those countries.

To ensure the efficacy of the funds, Egypt had instituted training
specific to the needs of each country and their own national
strategies for development. He noted that several Egyptian companies
directed investments to landlocked developing countries’
infrastructure development, including telecommunications and
construction. He concluded that integral to these funds was trilateral
cooperation, including with United Nations bodies and donor countries,
as well as humanitarian assistance.

ARMEN MARTIROSYAN ( Armenia) began by saying, `Any programme is as
good as its realization,’ and with that, called on States to adopt
measures that would eliminate the use of unilateral measures, which
contradicted international law and undermined the multilateral trading
system. Further, the interests of landlocked developing countries
should be fully taken into account. The elaboration of divisive
initiatives ran contrary to the Almaty Programme and would only add to
tensions, notably those in the South Caucasus, he added.

Touching on transit transportation systems, he also said that
assistance should be provided to landlocked developing countries in
the area of trade facilitation. To facilitate implementation of the
Almaty action plan, he proposed promoting the development of existing
transport structure, and thoroughly considering landlocked developing
country interests when creating development plans, among other
things. Moreover, it would be necessary for international financial
institutions to provide long-term grants and loans. Finally, he said
the Almaty Programme of Action had shown its comprehensiveness, and
joint efforts would produce results at the next midterm review

IGOR FINOGENOV, EuroAsian Development Bank, said the Bank had been
created in 2006 and was an international funding institution aimed at
promoting the market economy of its members and helping them bolster
their partnerships. It was open to new members and expected other
countries to join by year’s end. The Bank also wanted to see its
numbers increase. It worked on projects in the areas of
transportation, infrastructure, electricity, among others, and giving
specific attention to the Almaty Programme’s call to support the
landlocked countries of Central Asia. It was examining projects that
used waterways in the region and transport corridors, from Western
Europe to China, and North to South.

He said the Bank was interested in working with the specialized
agencies of the United Nations, especially since it had obtained
observer status last year. That gave it new opportunities. The Bank
hoped to coordinate activities with other agencies and to improve its
effectiveness, as it improved the lives of the region’s citizens. It
was also open to working on regional projects, he added.

MARC BALTES, Senior Adviser of the Organization for Security and
Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), said that, as the world’s largest
regional security organization recognized in the Charter, the OSCE was
a primary instrument for early warnings, conflict prevention, crisis
management and post-conflict rehabilitation. Using a comprehensive
approach, it dealt with the political/military, economic and
environmental, and human aspects of security, and thus, addressed a
range of security concerns, including arms control and
democratization, among others. All 56 participating States enjoyed
equal status.

He said the OSCE high-level Economic Forum in 2006 had been dedicated
to developing transit transportation. During that Forum, it had become
clear that special attention should be given to OSCE landlocked
developing countries and, based on that, the OSCE adopted a decision
on the `Future Transport Dialogue in the OSCE’, which provided a
strong mandate for continued activities to that end.

His office, along with the Office of the High Representative for the
Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small
Island Developing States, had organized a conference in Tajikistan to
enhance political dialogue on transit transportation in Central
Asia. The Joint Dushanbe Statement, agreed upon there, highlighted the
importance of building partnerships. In closing, he assured the
Assembly of the OSCE’s continued involvement in transport-related

The Assembly then adopted a draft resolution, containing the outcome
document of the midterm review of the Almaty Programme of Action:
Addressing the Special Needs of Landlocked Developing Countries within
a New Global Framework for Transit Transport Cooperation for
Landlocked and Transit Developing Countries (document A/63/L.3).

Closing Statement by General Assembly President

Concluding the High-Level Midterm Review of the Almaty Programme of
Action, Assembly President, MIGUEL D’ESCOTO BROCKMANN, of Nicaragua,
said that over the last two days, the world body had assessed efforts
to ensure that landlocked developing countries had efficient transit
transport systems and international market access. The `balanced and
precise’ Declaration adopted provided guidance to enhance
implementation of further projects.

The Assembly’s focus on action-oriented programmes that were
`measurable and feasible’ had grounded the Review in terms that would
benefit landlocked and transit countries alike, he said. It also
served to inspire greater donor involvement in such areas as trade
assistance, infrastructure, and financial and technical
assistance. The high-level panel on the role of international support
for transport systems provided a `dynamic exchange’ on such complex
issues, providing insight into the key partnerships emerging from the
Programme of Action.

`The United Nations is all about partnerships,’ he said, underscoring
the importance of monitoring progress within the Almaty Programme’s
five stated priorities. Noting that a global recession would be
`doubly catastrophic’ for the least developed countries that were both
poor and geographically isolated, he reiterated his promise that the
Assembly would use its authority to ensure donor commitments for
funding and technology transfer were honoured. While the work outlined
in the Almaty Review document was ambitious, it must inspire `our
sense of solidarity’ with the people of landlocked countries and their
neighbours, he said.