Joint UN Call for Smooth Transit and Transport Facilitation to and from Landlocked Developing Countries

NEW YORK 9 June 2020 – When borders all over the world close down, what happens to those countries dependent on moving goods and services through them?

Conditions in many Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) are deteriorating rapidly as a result of lockdown measures and international restrictions on the movement of people and goods. COVID-19 has affected us all, but Landlocked Developing Countries have been hit hard, and in unique ways. Already isolated from major markets and highly vulnerable to external shocks, they are entirely dependent on their neighbours to gain access to international seaports. Border closures, travel restrictions and heightened screenings have resulted in long queues at land borders and congestions at ports and airports across the world.

Lockdowns, combined with a health pandemic and a global recession, is already slowing, and could reverse, LLDCs’ development progress. 

In response, heads of major UN agencies have issued an urgent statement calling for decisive action to help LLDCs now. While protecting public health, they call for:

  1. Governments to refrain from any unjustified restraints on traffic and goods in transit to make sure that goods, medical equipment and basic goods and commodities, can depart from and reach the LLDCs when needed, without delay or hinderance.
  2. LLDCs and neighbouring countries to make use of trade facilitation standards and digital technologies that limit physical checks in transit, physical contact at borders and protect the health of workers, such as electronic exchange of information, electronic tracking, automation of customs procedures and paperless solutions. The implementation of international conventions on trade and transport is of utmost importance. 
  3. Governments around the globe to respond to this pandemic not only by minimizing disruptions to international transport but also by viewing the crisis as an opportunity to reorient international freight transport operations towards a more sustainable path.
  4. The strengthening of global and regional cooperation on transport connectivity.

The statement asserts the UN’s readiness to continue its support to LLDCs and their trading partners. The full statement is here.

Photo: Unload sacks of onions in a farmers market in Bamako. Dominic Chavez/World Bank, Flickr