Experts Group Meeting on enhancing trade and trade facilitation for increased diversification and the structural economic transformation of LLDCs

Lundi, 29 November 2021 - 9:00am to Mardi, 30 November 2021 - 9:00am




Landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) face special trade and development challenges, arising from their lack of territorial access to the sea and geographical remoteness from international markets. Lack of territorial access to the sea, isolation and remoteness from world markets and high transport and transit costs impose constraints on the overall socio-economic development and trade competitiveness of the 32 LLDCs. High trade costs negatively affect the LLDCs competitiveness in international trade. LLDCs have not been able to adequately harness the benefits of open trade such as investment finance, technology and services needed to further improve productive capacity in sectors such as agriculture, industry and services that are needed to achieve structural economic transformation.

Many LLDCs remain reliant on a few export commodities, which often have low value addition.  Due to their reliance on exports of primary commodities, LLDCs are vulnerable to external shocks, such as those arising from volatile commodity prices, climate change and natural disasters. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed the LLDCs’ vulnerabilities. The vulnerability presents fiscal and monetary policy challenges as well as to achieving sustainable development by LLDCs. 

In terms of economic vulnerabilities, small domestic markets, undiversified economies, and remoteness form the global markets, render these economies unattractive as destination for foreign direct investment. They are marginalized from the global and regional value chains and this impacts their ability to advance development efforts. 

The Vienna Programme of Action (VPoA) for LLDCs for the Decade 2014-2024, which is also an integral part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, acknowledges the importance of structural economic transformation in addressing the development challenges of LLDCs. Structural economic transformation – a gradual increase in value addition of the output of a given economy – lies at the center of developmental advancements. 

The VPoA priority area on structural transformation aims to achieve increased value addition in the manufacturing and agricultural sectors, with the aim of achieving inclusive growth and sustainable development, increase economic and export diversification, promote service-based growth, including from tourism, and encourage the inflow of foreign direct investment in high-value added sectors. International trade can play a catalyst role in achieving structural economic transformation. Integrating LLDCs in global trade is therefore vital including through building their productive capacities and addressing the high trade costs that they continue to face. Given their unique challenges, LLDCs require unique and accelerated approach to trade facilitation including achieving efficient transit cooperation.
The Expert Group Meeting will highlight the linkages between international trade and trade facilitation and economic diversification and structural economic transformation, and value-addition in LLDCs and implications for the achievement of the SDGs. 

Objectives of the meeting

The meeting will review the stance of the LLDCs in achieving structural economic transformation. The meeting will also review the linkage between the international trade, trade facilitation and structural economic transformation and the achievement of the SDGs by the LLDCs. It will explore trade policies for accelerating structural economic transformation in LLDCs. The meeting will provide inputs to a report on Enhancing Trade and Trade Facilitation for Economic Diversification and Structural Economic Transformation in Landlocked Developing Countries. 

Expected outcome

The meeting will make policy recommendations on accelerating structural economic transformation and the role of trade and trade facilitation and will provide inputs to the report on Enhancing Trade and Trade Facilitation for Economic Diversification and Structural Economic Transformation in Landlocked Developing Countries.

Format of the meeting 

The meeting will consist of several sessions focused on discussing the key issues. For each session, there will be a panel of experts that will make brief presentations to kick start the interactive discussion. The panel presentations will be followed by an interactive dialogue with members of the audience.

Working Language

The working language of the Expert Group Meeting is English.


The meeting will be organized by UN-OHRLLS in close collaboration with WTO.   


Participants invited to attend the event will include technical experts from the UN, international and regional organizations, as well as officials from LLDCs, other Member States, and academia. 

Background Documents


Download concept note


Programme_EGM_ Trade and Economic Diversification_28 Nov 2021


Day one presentations 

Session 1


Linkages between trade and structural tranformation Ms. Gladys Mutangadura



Enhancing Trade and Trade Facilitation Dr. Sandra Seno-Alday



Discussant comments Dr. Paras Kharel




Session 2


Trade trends in LLDCs Raul Torres



Impact of COVID-19 on LLDCs trade Fadia Achmadi



GVCs for LDCs Initiative Ari Van Assche




Session 3


Digital Trade era_Challenges and opportunities for LLDCs Maria Ceccarelli



Digital trade era challanges and oportunities for LLDCs UNCTAD



Development of electronic commerce in Kazakhstan ITTLLDCs




Session 4


Transport connectivity and trade facilitation UNCTAD



Transport connectivity and trade facilitation Ruosi Zhang WTO



Transport Connectivity and Trade Facilitation - Zodwa Mabuza AfDB




Session 5


Building LLDCs’ Productive Capacities - Policies and Strategies UNCTAD Mussie Delelegn



Building LLDC productive capacities Paras Kharel





Day two presentations 

Session 6


Trade finance for MSMEs Lakshmi Boojoo



Trade Finance for MSMEs Nnana Pheto OHRLLS



Session 6 Trade Finanace Trudi Hartzenberg TRALAC



Access to Finance Investment Programme ITC




Session 7


The Role of Services in structural Transformation Ms. Mburu Ndoria AfCFTA



The role of Services in structural Transformation Juan Marchetti WTO



Sandra Seno-Alday The Role of Services in Structural Transformation


EGM Conclusions and Recommendations


Closing remarks Mr Erdenebileg UN-OHRLLS