International transit systems must be urgently strengthened to build resilience to future pandemics in Landlocked Developing Countries
Better transit systems and operations at international borders are needed if the world’s Landlocked Developing Countries are to be able to build back better and be resilient to future pandemics and emergencies.
Our new report, “Impact of COVID-19 and responses in Landlocked Developing Countries” - written in collaboration with the International Think Tank for Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) - demonstrates how Landlocked Developing Countries’ lack of territorial access to the sea and global markets expose them in unique ways to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When the world locked down and borders closed throughout the globe, the LLDCs found themselves in a desperate situation with limited access to global markets, food and medical supplies and therefore were left behind in their efforts to fight the pandemic” said Mr. Courtenay Rattray, United Nations High-Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States. “This cannot be allowed to happen again. This group of countries is in dire need of more efficient transit systems to ensure secure and uninterrupted flows of goods and services when needed most. They must be supported to respond and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The new report calls for open cross-border transport networks for goods and services, expedited passage of medical supplies and coordinated safety measures at border crossings so that the world’s Landlocked Developing Countries can better face future crises.
The only way Landlocked Developing Countries can access the rest of the world is through their neighbours’ borders. It must be ensured that those gates can be opened in times of crisis. In fact, Landlocked Developing Countries suffer debilitating hurdles in their efforts to import and export goods. The pandemic made this problem stark with LLDCs struggling to access tools necessary to prevent the spread of the coronavirus but also the near-impossible challenge of importing vaccines.
In fact, by June 2021, 1% of global COVID-19 vaccine doses had been distributed in LLDCs, in a group of countries home to 7% of the world’s population. Only by prioritising vaccinations – the report states - the world be able to accelerate the LLDCs’ economic recovery and rebuild what was teared down by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Landlocked Developing Countries rely heavily on their neighbours – known as transit countries - to access international trade. The global shutdown caused a spike in prices of food and medical supplies which was multiplied in the LLDCs, as they had no direct access to commodity sources.