27 July 2009
Secretary-General
SG/SM/12387
DEV/2759

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

THINK TANK ON TRADE AND LANDLOCKED DEVELOPING COUNTRIES IN MONGOLIA WILL HELP


SPOTLIGHT SPECIAL CHALLENGES FACING THESE NATIONS, SAYS SECRETARY-GENERAL


Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s speech as prepared for delivery to the opening ceremony of the Think Tank on Trade and Landlocked Developing Countries, in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, 27 July:


It is a profound honour to participate in this opening ceremony.


Above all, I want to express my gratitude to the Government and people of Mongolia for hosting this important institute.  This is another concrete demonstration of Mongolia’s leadership, solidarity and commitment.


About one out of every six United Nations Member States is a landlocked developing country.  These countries face special challenges that are linked to fundamental geographic obstacles.  Remoteness from major international markets.  Inadequate transport infrastructure.  High transport costs. 


I am told that here in Mongolia, for example, transit transport costs amount to 8 percent of Mongolia’s Gross Domestic Product.  Costs such as these represent perhaps the biggest barrier for landlocked developing countries.  There is no doubt that an efficient transit transport system is the linchpin to effectively integrating into the world economy.


To put it another way, being locked in land should not mean being locked out of trade.


This new think tank fills a recognized need for landlocked developing countries (LLDCs).  It will provide a centre of excellence for high quality research and policy advice for landlocked developing countries with a focus on economic growth and poverty reduction


It will raise the prominence of these issues on the international stage and provide home grown independent research catering to the specific needs of landlocked developing countries.


The ideas and advice that you generate here can help landlocked developing countries literally from A to Z -– from Afghanistan to Zambia –- from Bhutan to Bolivia.


You are building on a proud national tradition.  Mongolia has been a pioneer for landlocked developing countries. 


Your country established the Group of LLDCs in 1994 and acted as the first Chair of the group for several years.  In 2007, you hosted a meeting of Trade Ministers of landlocked developing countries.


We celebrate your commitment today.  But I am also here to express the support of the entire United Nations.  The United Nations family is strongly committed to helping landlocked developing countries overcome the formidable obstacles to their development. 


More than four decades ago, the General Assembly of the United Nations recognized “the need of landlocked countries for adequate transit facilities in promoting international trade”. 


The United Nations Conference on landlocked developing countries and the adoption of the Almaty Programme of Action are a foundation for progress.


The Almaty action plan calls for much stronger support for transport infrastructure development and trade facilitation as well as aid, debt relief and market access.


And, indeed, multilateral institutions and regional organizations have allocated more attention and resources.  But much more needs to be done.  


I am certain that the work of this centre will go a long way in raising awareness and deepening understanding at the global level.  It will help spotlight the special challenges that landlocked developing countries face in integrating in the world economy. 


It will contribute to further strengthening the analytical capacities of landlocked developing countries.  And it will help them better articulate their positions throughout the world.


The United Nations system looks forward to establishing operational links with this think tank and providing necessary substantive support.  This includes the Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the relevant regional commissions.


Mongolia might be landlocked, but your constructive foreign policy of good neighborhood relations, dialogue and cooperation is the key to unlocking the door to an inclusive globalization and win-win solutions. 


Thank you for once again leading the way.


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For information media • not an official record