Annan stresses need for better market access for landlocked developing states

“Indeed, for landlocked developing countries, shipping and transit costs represent an even greater constraint than tariffs to greater participation in international trade,” Mr. Annan said in a message to the opening session of the first global conference on the issue in Almaty, Kazakhstan, read for him by Anwarul Chowdhury, the UN High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States.”The establishment of efficient transit transport systems is vital for their integration into the world economy,” he added. “This is also an area where the untapped potential of South-South cooperation should be fully utilized.”The two-day meeting brings together 30 landlocked developing countries, 33 transit access developing countries, nine donor countries, seven additional developing countries, and 20 UN and international agencies and financial institutions.With transit costs eating up anywhere between 15 and 50 per cent of their export earnings, the landlocked countries won improved market access under an agreement reached at the end of preparatory talks yesterday, promising reductions in red tape and transportation costs and time.The conference, formally titled the International Ministerial Conference of Landlocked and Transit Developing Countries and Donor Countries and International Financial and Development Institutions on Transit Transport Cooperation, is expected to give the final stamp of approval tomorrow to the agreement, called the Almaty Programme of Action.Mr. Annan noted in his message that he had put a strong emphasis on the special needs of landlocked developing countries in his global campaign to achieve the Millennium Development Goals of reducing poverty and hunger in half by 2015.”This conference is an opportunity for landlocked and transit developing countries and their development partners, including the private sector, to forge strong partnerships and draw much-needed attention to these issues,” he concluded.