|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
TRANSPORT COSTS NOW BIGGER BARRIER TO TRADE THAN TARIFFS, SECRETARY-GENERAL TELLS
HIGH-LEVEL MEETING ON SPECIAL NEEDS OF LANDLOCKED DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the General Assembly’s high-level meeting on the midterm review of the Almaty Programme of Action on the Special Needs of Landlocked Developing Countries, in New York today, 2 October:
Last week, as you know, I convened a high-level event on the Millennium Development Goals. We used the occasion to review progress towards attaining the MDGs. I sounded alarm bells that we were running out of time to honour commitments made to the developing world.
The response was overwhelming. Governments, foundations, civil society groups and businesses joined hands. We managed to forge new partnerships and prepare new action plans to speed up progress. We generated unprecedented commitment in pledges to help the world’s poor. The final figures are not in yet, but the total may be as much as $16 billion.
I am now more hopeful about attaining the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
Today we are sounding alarm bells for the Almaty Programme of Action. I hope for a similarly hope-inspiring response.
Too many of the landlocked developing countries are not on track to meeting the Millennium Development Goals. According to the United Nations Development Programme, they account for 10 of the 20 countries with the lowest level of human development.
It is vital that landlocked developing countries increase their volume of exports in order to meet the Millennium Development Goals. Currently, the world’s 31 landlocked developing countries account for less than 1 per cent of global merchandise trade.
The single biggest obstacle to increasing this share is the very high cost of transport. In some landlocked developing countries, transport costs can exceed 70 per cent of the export value. This has become a bigger barrier to trade than tariffs.
Clearly, we need a more vigorous effort for international cooperation.
There has been some encouraging progress in implementing the Almaty Programme. Many countries are improving transit transport policies. This is making it easier for landlocked countries to use neighbouring countries’ ports and roads. Trade facilitation has also reduced the costs of doing business.
Much more now needs to be done in the area of infrastructure development. Roads and railways remain inadequate. Many ports are using obsolete cargo-handling equipment. We need to mobilize more international support in order to improve infrastructure.
The Millennium Summit of September 2000 committed to addressing the special needs of landlocked developing countries. The Almaty Programme of Action translates this commitment into specific actions.
The United Nations supports the Almaty Programme by working with countries to develop integrated transport networks; to modernize customs operations; to build capacities for trade negotiations; and in developing indicators for monitoring progress. We are building partnerships with financial institutions and regional development banks in our activities.
The achievements so far are encouraging. But we need full implementation by all partners in order to make significant progress. Let us use the success of the high-level event on the Millennium Development Goals as inspiration for this review.
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