|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-eighth General Assembly
14th & 15th Meetings (AM & PM)
Improved Transport Infrastructure, Greater Regional Cooperation Stressed
as Second Committee Considers Countries in Special Situations
A lack of access to the sea, as well as remoteness, made doing business with major markets expensive for landlocked developing countries, said the representative of Botswana today as the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) discussed countries in special situations.
Landlocked countries were among the poorest of the developing countries, he said, noting that only 5 per cent of foreign direct investment reached them in 2012. Climate change also increased their vulnerability, while the cost escalation associated with minimizing the risk of environmental changes remained a heavy burden.
Enhancement of institutions and streamlining customs, borders, and transport costs were critical. Infrastructure development remained the backbone without which they would remain paralysed, he added. In that regard, the international community must continue to provide technological and financial assistance.
The representative of Lao People’s Democratic Republic, speaking on behalf of landlocked developing countries, agreed with his counterpart, saying the negative effects of climate change, desertification, land degradation and drought made the plight of their countries particularly difficult. Those countries continued to be challenged by the adverse effects of not only being landlocked, but also new challenges, such as the global economic crisis.
Mongolia’s representative said her country faced 30-50 per cent higher transport costs compared to costal economies. However, she encouraged landlocked developing countries to be pro-active rather than reactive in their efforts to degrade their vulnerability. Mongolia’s action plan focused on cooperating with international and regional development partners. It had also established an international think tank that contributed to the capacity building of landlocked developing countries.
Other countries echoed the importance of regional cooperation. The representative of the United States urged landlocked developing and transit countries to enhance cooperation in the energy, transport and information and communication technology sectors.
The delegate from Kazakhstan said his country was building transcontinental transport connections between Europe and Asia. The reconstruction of an international transit road corridor between Western Europe and Western China would significantly reduce cargo delivery time, as compared to sea.
Tajikistan’s representative pointed to a highway agreement signed by several countries in that region. Decisions were also taken to create more attractive conditions for transit, eliminate transport barriers and address tariff constraints. A single-window system would improve customs rules and regulations. As a new member of the World Trade Organization, he said his country would continue to liberalize its trade regime.
Science, technology and innovation was another game changer for the world’s poorest countries. The representative of Turkey said that increasing the least developed countries’ productive capacity building abilities through science, technology and innovation could reduce their exposure to global risks. Turkey supported the establishment of a technology bank dedicated to the scientific needs of the least developed countries and offered to host such a bank.
The delegate of Benin, speaking on behalf of the least developed countries, noted the 12.8 per cent decrease in official development assistance (ODA) to least developed countries, while overall ODA had only dropped by 4 per cent to developing countries. This came at a time when the least developed countries faced serious constraints and vulnerabilities compared to other developing countries, which slowed their efforts to achieve development goals.
As the most recently graduated country from the United Nations least developed countries list, the representative of Maldives said his country still faced daunting challenges. The term “least developed countries” was not a proud category for a country to be in and the inherent vulnerabilities and volatility of such countries to externalities beyond their control made it necessary for them to have access to development financing and technical assistance.
Earlier, the Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States introduced several documents up for the Committee’s consideration.
Also speaking today were representatives of Fiji (on behalf of the Group of 77 and China), Haiti (on behalf of Caribbean Community), Singapore (on behalf of Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Ethiopia, Malaysia, India, Russian Federation, Bangladesh, Morocco, Burkina Faso, Tuvalu, Angola, China, Paraguay, Nepal, Myanmar, Bhutan, Zambia, Malawi and South Africa, and a representative of the European Union delegation.
A representative from the World Food Programme also delivered a statement.
The Committee will meet again on 22 October at 10 a.m. to take up information and communications technology.
The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met this morning to take up the issue of groups of countries in special situations. Before it were three reports of the Secretary-General, on “Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries” (documents A/68/88–E/2013/81 and A/68/88/Corr.1–E/2013/81/Corr.1) and “Technology bank and science, technology and innovation supporting mechanism dedicated to the least developed countries” (document A/68/217) and the “Implementation 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/68/157).
Introduction of Reports
M. GYAN CHANDRA ACHARYA, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the “Implementation of the Programme of Action for the least developed countries for the Decade 2011 to 2020”, saying that the poverty rate of least developed countries was still at about 47 per cent, while the world average was at 22 per cent in 2010. Least developed countries remained vulnerable to the global economic financial crisis, with official development assistance (ODA) declining by nearly 13 per cent in 2013, which was much larger than the overall reduction of ODA worldwide, at 4 per cent. Least developed countries and development partners had made efforts to integrate the Istanbul Programme of Action into their development strategies, although moving forward, capacity-building needed to be placed at the core of domestic, regional and global agendas through increased domestic investment, as well as the fulfilment of ODA commitments. South-South and triangular cooperation needed to be strengthened and economies needed to undergo a rapid structural transformation, when possible.
Mr. Acharya also introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the establishment of a “Technology bank and science, technology and innovation supporting mechanism dedicated to the least developed countries”, saying the transfer of technology had not benefitted least developed countries in a meaningful way so as to bring a fundamental transformation to their technological capacity. There was no global framework, agreement or mechanism for scientific and technological capacity-building in those countries that covered the entire realm of the technological ecosystem. They would need technological leapfrogging to bridge the technology gaps through the facilitation of technology transfer, the promotion of robust, endogenous science, technology and innovation capacity-building and the mobilization of strong global support. A technology bank dedicated to least developed countries could result in significant advancements through a patents bank, a science and technology depository facility and a science, technology and innovation supporting mechanism.
He then introduced the Secretary-General’s report on “Implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action”, noting that the document provided an assessment of the social and economic performance of the landlocked developing countries. The level of development those countries was on average, 20 per cent lower than what it would be if the countries were not landlocked. They required strong partnership with transit developing countries and a global partnership with a supportive international trading system. The report also outlined several developments in the areas of infrastructure and maintenance. On international trade and trade facilitation, it highlighted that several countries had joined the World Trade Organization while others were at various levels of the process. Aid for trade had helped to improve trade facilitation, trade related infrastructure and build productive capacity. Preparations were also under way for the 10-year review conference of the Almaty Programme of Action.
When the floor was opened up, the representative of Benin said it would be helpful to establish a link between the various reports and to hear more about how action within the United Nations system was coordinated in that area. There were parallel processes being discussed but it was important to ensure that landlocked developing countries were not cut off from the least developed countries process.
Mr. ACHARYA addressed the remarks by stating that his office had analysed the binding constraints of the least developed countries. He said that least developed countries graduation could not happen with “business as usual” practices. Poor countries must graduate with a sustainable, inclusive, and rapid transformation. A holistic approach to productive capacity was critical. It must not only focus on manufacturing, but also at expanding human capabilities. Noting that half of the landlocked countries were also in the least developed countries category, he said that economy diversification and subregional and regional cooperation were cross-cutting issues.
PETER THOMSON (Fiji), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, noted that most least developed countries continued to face low levels of human development and high risk to external shocks. Deteriorating economic environment in the developed world was diverted towards those countries, therefore reversing their modest development progress. Since least developed countries were lagging behind in the achievement of most of the Millennium Development Goals, specific attention must be given to their structural transformation and the creation of decent jobs. Those countries lagged behind in all the critical areas that had the potential to change their economic landscape. He called for the development of the technology sector in those countries, saying that it would bridge a gap and build production capacity.
He commended the Secretary-General’s report on the establishment of a technology bank and of a science and technology research facility, calling for a decision on the establishment of the former be taken during the current General Assembly session. On landlocked developing countries, he said they faced distinct challenges such as border crossing, weak institutions and poor infrastructure. Their economic growth remained highly vulnerable to external shocks, including the global economic crisis and climate change. To address those needs, he called on the international community and donor parties to assist landlocked developing countries to effectively implement the Almaty Programme of Action. The United Nations, private sector and academia must help develop effective priorities for the next development agenda.
ASTRIDE NAZAIRE (Haiti), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that while structural changes and social improvements had been discernable in some countries, in most poor countries progress lagged. It was shameful that 79 per cent of people in least developed countries still lacked electricity. As the number of those suffering from hunger continued to growth, development of rural agriculture was critical in providing jobs and ensuring food security in the poorest countries. On trade, she said quota-free access to markets had not been efficiently achieved and reiterated the need to enhance South-South cooperation and trade. Human and social development was clearly the most alarming of the objectives under the Istanbul Programme of Action. However, progress had been slow, stagnant, or in decline.
CARICOM called for urgent measures to protect vulnerable groups and address risks to least developed countries. Least developed countries must be given leeway in the area of budgetary spaces, macroeconomic flexibility and the mobilization of financial resources. ODA was instrumental to growth, she said, reiterating the need to remove conditionality on purchase of goods and services. Precise and effective aid was critical as was debt-relief. For Haiti, technical assistance was crucial on matters of climate change. She noted the many calamities which had weakened its infrastructure such as multiple hurricanes, an earthquake and the spread of the Asian strain of cholera.
KAREN TAN (Singapore), speaking on behalf of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and associating herself with the Group of 77, said countries in special situations could no longer afford to remain passive in the face of global challenges. Calling for the establishment of a technology bank, she said bold action and renewed political commitment was needed to tackle challenges such as climate change, natural hazards, food insecurity and economic shocks. While each country had primary responsibility for its own economic and social development, the international community had the responsibility to live up to its commitments and shared responsibilities.
ASEAN believed that discussions on the post-2015 development agenda must identify and mainstream strategies that further assist least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States in attaining their development goals. Narrowing the development gap between countries in Southeast Asia was critical to improving the lives and well-being of people in that region. To that end, several initiatives were undertaken to promote cooperation and close that gap. Ensuring economic integration was instrumental in alleviating poverty. That included reducing barriers to trade and investment, raising productivity and upgrading infrastructure.
SALEUMXAY KOMMASITH (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), speaking on behalf of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries and associating himself with the Group of 77, said the Almaty Programme of Action is the first and only United Nations framework that addressed the special needs and challenges faced by landlocked developing countries. Over the last 10 years, considerable progress had been made, particularly in the establishment of efficient transit transport systems that significantly contributed to socioeconomic development and the integration of landlocked developing countries into the regional and global economic system. However, those countries continued to face the combined adverse effects of being landlocked and newly-emerging challenges, such as the global economic crisis, compounded with the negative effects of climate change, desertification, land degradation and drought. As such, the economies of those countries remained both fragile.
The 10-year Review Conference on the Implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action would provide a unique opportunity to comprehensively and critically review the Programme. The landlocked developing countries called for a new, action-oriented framework for the next decade, while taking into account the unfinished agenda of the Programme. At the same time, it would be important to focus on the reduction of high transport and transaction costs, the establishment of efficient transit systems through increased investment, and the energy and information and communications technology infrastructure.
JEAN-FRANCIS ZINSOU (Benin), on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries and associating himself with the Group of 77, said the situation in the great majority of the least developed countries remained of concern, particularly given the percentage of those living below the poverty level. Least developed countries continued to face serious constraints and vulnerabilities compared to other developing countries, which slowed their efforts to achieve goals concerning maternal and infant health, literacy, hunger, malnutrition, and access to energy, as outlined in the Istanbul Programme of Action. Least developed countries needed strengthened global solidarity and cooperation to overcome their constraints. Contrary to expectation, there had been a 12.8 per cent decrease of bilateral aid to those countries, while other developing countries only saw a decrease of 4 per cent. Partners must fulfil their commitments to predictable support in the priority areas outlined in the Programme, including for the development of capacities and technologies.
South-South and triangular cooperation also had a strong potential to increase growth rates in least developed countries. Those countries welcomed the integration of the Programme and noted that some United Nations institutions gave up to half of its budget to them. In the area of technology, the least developed countries were among the most disadvantaged and often only had access to primitive, antiquated technology. Significant resource restraints limited the ability of their countries to invest in research and development; and while the world had seen significant technological growth, it was largely under the control of large companies in developed countries.
IOANNIS VRAILAS, of the European Union delegation, underlined his commitment to the implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action. The European Union development policy would continue to assist least developed countries in their structural reforms to enhance productive capacity and unlock domestic potential for sustainable and inclusive growth. Emphasizing the need for an increased focus on “Aid for Trade”, he said, least developed countries would continue to benefit from duty-free quota-free market access to the European Union market. In that regard, the European Union would pursue efforts to achieve progress on the Doha Development Agenda.
He reaffirmed the Union’s support to accompany least developed countries in their national transition strategies to graduate from that category. Predictability was also needed from the United Nations decision-making process to ensure expeditious and time-framed action by the General Assembly on graduating countries. On landlocked developing countries, he said, the Union would continue to assess progress made in the implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action. To that end, he called for fruitful discussions that addressed key bottle necks such as the high cost of transit and trade.
AMAN HASSEN BAME (Ethiopia), associating himself with the Group of 77, the Group of Least Developed Countries and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, noted the “shaky start” of the implementation progress of the Istanbul Programme of Action. Like many other poor countries, Ethiopia needed to enhance its productive capacity and adapt to new and emerging challenges. Domestic resource mobilization was also important to financing its own development. It must also develop and invest in renewable sources of energy to help expedite efforts to eradicate poverty. International assistance was critical, he said, calling countries to fulfil their commitment of 0.15 to 0.2 per cent of gross national income to ODA. As a landlocked developing country, Ethiopia had allocated a major portion of gross domestic product (GDP) to constructing dry port facilities, roads, railroads, telecommunications infrastructure and power grids along transit routes. It had also signed several bilateral agreements with Sudan, Djibouti and Yemen regarding port utilization and services to import/export cargoes and maritime transport cooperation. Being landlocked remained an impediment to development. In 2010 alone, the trade volume of those countries was just 61 per cent of the trade volume of the coastal countries while the transport cost for them was 45 per cent higher.
RAJA REZA BIN RAJA ZAIB SHAH (Malaysia), himself with the Group of 77 and ASEAN, said given the potential impacts of natural disasters and the effects of climate change, it was important for the international community to implement the Istanbul Programme of Action. Least developed countries had reached some agreed-upon targets, but despite those achievements, nearly half of their citizens were living below the poverty line. Progress in education was modest, while gender inequalities remained high. The deteriorating global economic environment was being transmitted to the least developed countries through declining ODA and the volatility of commodity prices. Malaysia called upon stakeholders to act now and give priority to those countries and to redouble efforts to achieve the Programme of Action. The ownership and leadership of the least developed countries in formulating their own priorities was also important for the success of the Programme. Malaysia pledged its continued support for least developed countries and development partners, particularly in the area of poverty eradication.
RAJANI PATIL (India), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, said that least developed and landlocked countries faced unique challenges and it was important that the international community approach their issues through a lens of solidarity. Unless there was rapid, sustained and inclusive development in those countries, there would not be progress in achieving the internationally-agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals. ODA accounted for more than half of external financing available to least developed countries, yet that assistance had fallen for two straight years. ODA commitments needed to be scaled up, while the international community must work for the early conclusion of the Doha Round and prioritize technology transfer, market access, debt relief, the creation of infrastructure and increasing the productive capacities of the least developed countries. Efforts in the coming decade should promote greater structural transformation in the landlocked developing countries, create infrastructure and build strong productive capacities to improve trade performance and enhance their integration with the world economy. An effective solution to the problems faced by those landlocked countries must address the constraints and challenges faced by the developing transit countries that neighbour them. South-South cooperation had meaningfully supplemented international efforts to support the least developed and landlocked developing countries, with large developing countries emerging as important trade partners.
SIRODJIDIN M. ASLOV (Tajikistan), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, called for the elimination of artificial trade barriers. Calling for the full implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action, he highlighted several conferences regarding the review process. An agreement was signed by several countries of the region regarding a model highway in Central Asia. Decisions were also taken to create more attractive conditions for transit, eliminate transport barriers and address tariff constraints. A single-window system would improve customs rules and regulations. As a member of the World Trade Organization, Tajikistan continued to liberalize its trade regime. A regime beneficial to landlocked developing countries was imperative. In the preparatory process to the review of the Programme of Action, it was important to study trade within countries. Applying best practices in Central Asia would bring significant progress in internal and interregional trade.
VANGANSUREN ULZIIBAYAR (Mongolia), associating herself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said that her country faced 30-50 per cent higher transport costs compared to costal economies. Landlocked developing countries must be proactive rather than reactive in their efforts to degrade their vulnerability. Proactive measures taken in landlocked and transit developing countries should be assisted affectively by the international community in the form of increased financial support to transit transport, energy, and information and communications technology and trade facilitation projects. Sandwiched between two big neighbours, Mongolia’s action plan focused on cooperating with international and regional development partners. It had also established an international think tank that contributed to the capacity building of landlocked developing countries. The Almaty Programme of Action must provide the opportunity for the international community to fully consider the special needs and challenges faced by landlocked developing countries.
Y. HALIT ÇEVIK (Turkey) said the global economic situation posed risks to the least developed countries and development partners should help those countries to achieve the objectives outlined in the Istanbul Programme of Action. Turkey had increased its international development assistance package since the Istanbul conference to nearly $2.5 billion and remained committed to the development efforts of the least developed countries. The international community needed to promote accelerated development efforts, including capacity building and science, technology and innovation measures. Turkey attached importance to the establishment of a technology bank dedicated to the scientific needs of those countries and offered to host such a bank.
IRINA MEDVEDEVA (Russian Federation) said today that more than ever it was critical to approve and implement international agreements that supported the least developed countries and recognized the role of the public sector and civil society in helping them achieve those goals. Russia was open to increased cooperation with a large number of partners for the full implementation of the global development agenda. Russia continued to increase its contribution toward international development programmes and supported increased trade capacities for the least developed countries. Russia placed great importance on the full participation of the landlocked developing countries in the global and regional economic and trade processes and underlined its attachment to the Almaty Programme of Action. Russia placed considerable importance on partnerships between northern and eastern Asia and the development of transport infrastructure, including transport corridors between Asia and Europe, which would benefit the landlocked developing countries.
Ms. YESHAMAGAMBETOVA (Kazakhstan), associating herself with the Group of Least Developed Countries, said her country had carried out work to develop the trade and transport sectors, including upgrading existing facilities, increasing the commercial orientation of transport services, eliminating non-physical barriers to transit traffic and introducing a “one stop shop” principle in the vehicle control process. She said that her country had made efforts to build transcontinental transport connections between Europe and Asia, including reconstruction of the international transit road corridor “Western Europe — Western China”. That effort would provide transportation from China to Europe, reducing cargo delivery time by triple compared to delivery by sea. The design of land cargo terminals was key to stimulating the growth of international trade and transportation for landlocked developing countries and influencing the development of regional infrastructure, as well as the creation of jobs. Those countries needed to continue to strengthen their production capacities to enhance their own competitiveness and create favourable conditions for attracting foreign direct investment and private sector partnerships.
AHMED SAREER (Maldives) said, as the most recently graduated country from the United Nations list, his country still faced daunting challenges. It was a shame that Maldives continued to suffer the consequences for graduation due to the insufficiency of a transition strategy as the process was still based on flawed criteria. The term “least developed countries” was not a proud category to be in and the inherent vulnerabilities and volatility of countries to externalities beyond their control made it necessary to have access to concessional development financing and technical assistance to continue progressing to more resilient levels of development. Its transition strategy was developed on trade, he said. Maldives’ “everything but arms” trade agreement with the European Union was coming to an end, and his country had applied to join the Union’s Generalized System of Preferences. However, a new Union regulation added a condition that Maldives must ratify 27 core conventions and, although submitting the relevant information, the Union intended to reject the application unless all reservations to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women were removed. That, he said, would be an unprecedented loss to his country’s fisheries, the second largest economic sector. That and others issues were the result of Maldives’ graduation. No pre-graduation analysis had taken place to understand how the country had lifted its social indicators, he said, noting progress in those areas resulting largely from donor intervention. He suggested the creation of innovative measures to capture the development dynamics of small, highly dispersed island countries and the building of a system to conduct regular studies to help the international donor community decide on assistance. “It must be an obligation of the international community, in particular the United Nations, to ensure that the progress made by graduating countries is not reversed during the transition process, and that inherent vulnerabilities are not disregarded,” he concluded.
ABDUL MOMEN (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said despite a bleak picture that included the fact that almost 30 per cent of the population of least developed countries was chronically hungry, his country remained hopeful that poverty could be eradicated. In the area of science, technology and innovation, those countries needed international support, while trade was another priority area where they remained marginalized. The developed countries needed to ensure the timely implementation of duty-free and quota-free market access to all products from all least developed countries in a way that was efficient and meaningful. Bangladesh was alarmed at the drop in bilateral net ODA to least developed countries and called upon development partners to meet their commitments. Support in the area of climate change adaptation was also needed, as most least developed countries suffered from rising sea levels and coastal erosion, salinity and depletion of aquifers, ocean acidification, desertification, floods and land degradation.
Mr. ACHERGUI (Morocco), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said the structural problems of the least developed countries still needed be solved, as the number of such countries nearly doubled since that group was first identified in the 1970s. The Rio+20 Conference helped outline the challenges least developed countries faced and, through a global framework, development assistance commitments were made and various large scale activities were undertaken. However, those countries were weakened by a lack of financial and human assets and progress was hampered by the effects of climate change, which resulted in severe challenges such as poverty, disease and unemployment. That is why the time was now for addressing the global governance structure for climate change and sustainable development. Significant progress had been made to address the fragility of the least developed countries, as well as the landlocked developing countries, but the data showed that they would need to have their capacities significantly strengthened to implement the priorities outlined in the Almaty Programme of Action.
Mr. BENGALY (Burkina Faso) noted the historic importance of the Almaty Conference and said that despite some progress, many domestic and external factors for least developed countries had prevented them from participating in the global financial market. In Burkina Faso, the Almaty framework was implemented through a strategic plan to combat poverty and accelerate growth. The development of transport routes allowed greater connectivity and promoted import and export through neighbouring countries. Burkina Faso also joined regional organizations to improve the quality and speed of service for the transport of goods. The international community should take into account the situation of vulnerable countries. The Almaty review conference would send a strong signal to pay attention to the needs of landlocked developing countries and their special situations should be taken into account when devising the post-2015 agenda.
AUNESE MAKOI SIMATI (Tuvalu) said that despite progress made in the pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals, the core challenges of being a least developed country and small island developing State had not changed. Next year’s International Year of Small Island Developing States must serve as an opportunity not only to ensure their sustainable development but their long-term security and survival. Noting confines to Tuvalu’s options for economic diversification, he requested the United Nations re-examine the idea that the sovereign trust fund was a means of enhancing financial sustainability. Attaining the Millennium Goal on poverty eradication by its deadline was highly unlikely as his country continued to remain highly dependent on aid, leasing gratuities and rental incomes of its national assets and remittances.
ANTONIO COELHO ROMAS DA CRUZ (Angola) said while the report showed some progress, extreme poverty continued to prevail in the majority of least developed countries, further exacerbated by issues such as rising inequality and a dearth of decent jobs for youth. To overcome structural challenges in that group of countries, his delegation called for the full, timely and effective implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action, with an aim of enabling at least half of them to meet graduation criteria by 2020 through a renewed and strengthened partnership for development. While Angola was in the process of graduation, he reiterated that foreign direct investment and ODA flows were fundamental and indispensible for least developed countries to attain internationally agreed goals.
WANG HONGBO (China), associating herself with the Group of 77, noted that the world economy was still on uncertain ground and the least developed and landlocked developing countries were the most vulnerable in the international community. The effective support of those countries was important for global development and growth, and commitments should be translated into actions. The most direct and effective support to those countries was ODA; therefore, developed countries should improve the distribution of assistance and strengthen the entire package of support measures, with a particular focus on increasing production capacity. The support of the international community should be more targeted, while infrastructure development needed to be strengthened and regional cooperation accorded a key role in cross-border transport policies. The United Nations system and its agencies should mainstream the implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action and the Almaty Programme of Action. The 10-year Almaty review conference should further strengthen the international consensus through the comprehensive review of the special development needs of the least developed and landlocked developing countries.
MARCELLO SCAPPINI RICCIARDI (Paraguay), associating himself with the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries and the Group of 77, urged the international community to continue in its efforts to implement the Almaty Programme of Action. He noted improvements made regarding access to water and sanitation services. Nevertheless, greater efforts could be made in the sector of gender equity and child mortality. He noted that 85 per cent of his country’s exports were food and emphasized the need to diversify exports. It was also important to develop new land transport infrastructure, and improve the existing one. Paraguay had gradually been boosting the service sector which had fewer transport costs. The Almaty Programme had demonstrated the importance of the constant relationship of landlocked countries and the developing transit countries, in relation to trade and policy. Transit countries in Latin American and the Caribbean, as well as donor countries, must participate in the regional review of the Programme.
DURGA PRASAD BHATTARAI (Nepal), associating himself with the Group of 77, the Group of Least Developed Countries and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said most least developed countries would remain off-track in meeting the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 due to their deep-rooted structural constraints and unique vulnerabilities. Nepal called for the effective implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action to address the challenges faced by least developed countries. The gradual reduction of ODA in recent years would only worsen the situation, given the enormity of development challenges and capacity limitations facing those countries. Landlocked developing countries also faced a unique blend of challenges. Nepal’s lack of connectivity to and from the sea, limited access to modern technology and other restraints had a cumulative negative effect on development. Stronger bilateral, sub-regional and regional cooperation in the construction and improvement of transport networks and concrete measures in trade facilitation would be necessary.
HAN WIN NAING (Myanmar), associating himself with the Group of 77, ASEAN and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said that although his country had been in the latter category since 1987, it had not enjoyed any substantive benefit from the international community for economic and trade development over the past 20 years. “Aid for trade” was important to assist those countries in building their trade-related infrastructure and productive capacity. Similarly, full implementation of duty-free, quota-free market access for exports was also critical for accelerating job creation. Last year, Myanmar had received the lowest ODA amount among all 48 least developed countries, he pointed out urging donor countries to fulfil their obligation in helping in the development of those countries. Myanmar was aiming to meet the criteria for graduation from least developed countries status by 2020. To that end, the Government had targeted to achieve a sustained economic growth at 7.7 per cent in the next five years.
YESHEY DORJI (Bhutan) said despite significant progress in implementing the Almaty and Istanbul action plans, the majority of least developed countries would fail to achieve the Millennium Goals by 2015. For his country, growth rates and poverty eradication efforts had been accompanied by multiple challenges, including an aid-dependent economy and high youth unemployment with declines in ODA affecting domestic resource mobilization to finance socioeconomic development. As a result, it was critical that least developed countries were mainstreamed into the post-2015 development agenda. “Integrating our priorities into the global development agenda will not suffice,” he said. “We must collectively ensure that the United Nations System Funds and Programmes translate these political mandates into development activities on the ground.”
THERESA L. CHANDA (Zambia), aligning herself with the Group of 77, Group of Landlocked Developing Countries and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said it was important to reduce the vulnerabilities of poor countries and address their high levels of poverty. Development of least developed countries was often affected by external economic and climate crises. Zambia had implemented a national plan integrating the Millennium Development Goals, as well as the Istanbul Programme of Action, which focused on human development and sustained economic growth. She called for Governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations to contribute to the monitoring of the Istanbul Programme of Action. The lack of access to major international markets, compounded by inadequate transport access continued to constrain and expose landlocked countries to external shocks and other challenges. The international community must continue to implement the Almaty Programme of Action, specifically in transport infrastructure and deeper regional integration.
PHOLOGO J GAUMAKWE (Botswana) said that landlocked developing countries faced huge challenges. A lack of access to the sea and major markets, as well as remoteness, made doing business very expensive. Those countries were among the poorest, he said, noting that only 5 per cent of foreign direct investment reached landlocked developing countries in 2012. ODA to those countries also fell, which translated in some countries as a decrease of 10 per cent of GDP growth. Climate change had also increased their vulnerability to land degradation and drought. As water levels receded, water levels shrunk. The cost escalation associated with minimizing the risk of environmental changes remained a heavy burden on those countries who already found themselves in a developmental bind. Enhancement of institutions and streamlining customs, borders, and transport costs was critical. Infrastructure development remained the backbone without which those landlocked countries would remain paralyzed, he added. In that regard, the international community must continue to provide technological and financial assistance.
CHARLES MSOSA (Malawi), associating himself with the Group of 77, the Group of Least Developed Countries and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said that to mitigate the adverse effects of the various crises on vulnerable countries, the international community must continue to inject aid, and assist in capacity building and technical support. He reiterated the need for all stakeholders to commit to the implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action, as his Government had done through the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy II. Designed to attain Malawi’s long-term aspiration to graduate from the least developed countries group, it focused on economic growth, social development and risk management. He also stressed the importance of including the special needs of landlocked developing countries into the post-2015 development agenda, emphasizing the need to build upon achievements made with the implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action.
Ms. NOSISI (South Africa), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, said that least developed and landlocked developing countries had been unable to overcome their economic vulnerability and to structurally transform their economies or build resilience against internal and external shocks and crises. While it was true the responsibility for development rested primarily with the Governments of least developed countries, the international community and development partners had an obligation to ensure the delivery of commitments made under Millennium Development Goal 8 and the Monterey Consensus. Development partners, furthermore, had a responsibility to ensure that ODA was aligned to the productive capacity building priorities of the recipient countries. Such assistance remained the single largest financing source for national budgets in least developed countries and it was therefore unfortunate that it had declined in the last two consecutive years. While other financing sources needed exploration, the current decline in ODA and foreign investment needed reversal. South-South cooperation played a significant role in the development programmes of least development countries, but South-South cooperation did not rescind the responsibility of donor countries.
TERRI ROBL (United States) said that effectively addressing the challenges of least developing countries required diversifying their economies, investing in quality education, improving the business environment and investing in food security. Least developed countries were of primary focus to the foreign aid and development agenda of the United States. The ten-year review conference of the Almaty Programme of Action must further integrate the landlocked developing countries in the global trading system. Deepening regional cooperation was integral in reducing transport costs. She urged landlocked developing countries and transit countries to enhance cooperation in the sectors of energy, transport and information and communication technology. Calling for an increase in foreign direct investment, she said it must be stable and reliable. A clear commitment to good governance must also attract ODA. In that regard, including women and youth in economic development was important. In the same vein, graduation from the least developed countries status must not result in abrupt economic change.
GORDANA JERGER of the World Food Programme (WFP), speaking also on behalf of the Food and Agriculture Organization and the International Fund for Agricultural Development, said that while the global community had made great strides to reduce global hunger and meet the first Millennium Development Goal, 842 million people still did not have enough food to lead active and healthy lives. Progress had been uneven. While Southeast Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean were on track to meeting the Millennium Development Goals, sub-Saharan Africa and Western Asia were not. The Programme’s Purchase for Progress initiative had been piloted in 13 least developed countries and offered smallholder farmers opportunities to access agricultural markets and become competitive market participants to help rural populations that depended on markets for their livelihoods. But looking ahead, the context in which the WFP operated was changing. In addition to rural areas, there would be increasing food security and nutrition challenges in overcrowded slums in cities and an increasing urban population would be dependent for a large part of its food on a proportionately shrinking rural population. Therefore, urban-rural linkages would be crucial for safeguarding food security and nutrition. These should also be factored as Governments considered policies and investments to overcome hunger and malnutrition.
* *** *For information media • not an official record