Thank you for inviting me to participate and I am pleased to represent the Secretary-General in this important meeting.
I especially thank His Excellency Mr. Thongloun Sisoulith, the Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, for his leadership of this Group.
To help landlocked developing countries, we need a global partnership to end their marginalization in the international trading system and meet their development challenges.
The Almaty Programme of Action of 2003 sets the parameters for this partnership in 2003.
Since then, we have seen encouraging progress.
Landlocked developing countries as a group have improved their share of world trade over the past decade – and by that, their economic growth.
The international community increasingly recognizes the special concerns of your States.
The Rio+20 conference made a strong statement of commitment to assisting and supporting landlocked developing countries.
The United Nations is working hard to carry out the Almaty Programme. We are mobilizing international support within and beyond the United Nations. My colleague, the High Representative, our regional commissions and our development agencies are helping landlocked countries to address transit challenges, trade barriers and economic problems.
The United Nations system is also endorsing the establishment of an international think tank to strengthen the analytical capacities of your States so they can overcome their geographical disadvantages.
I am encouraged that aid flows are increasing. Official development assistance more than doubled from $12 billion in 2003 to $25 billion in 2010. Aid-for-trade commitments also more than doubled, from $4 billion to $9 billion over that period.
But the unique, longstanding problems faced by landlocked developing countries are being exacerbated by global, national and other challenges. For example, their already high transport and trade costs are skyrocketing further as a result of rising fuel prices.
The ten-year review conference of the Almaty Programme of Action in 2014 will be an important opportunity to address new and emerging issues. And I will keep myself informed of progress on that work.
Looking ahead to the period after 2015, it will be critical to address the concerns of landlocked developing countries in the post-MDG development agenda. And in the meantime, we continue pressing ahead to achieve the Goals in all countries. We have 3 years, 3 months and 4 days to go. So there is much work for us all to do.
We must all be committed to keeping the problems faced by landlocked developing countries high on the international agenda.
Earlier this month, the Fourth Meeting of Trade Ministers of Landlocked Developing adopted a declaration that highlighted the need for domestic policies, measures by transit neighbours, as well as a supportive international environment.
I am here to echo this call. The United Nations is working to facilitate this cooperation so that landlocked developing countries can meet their challenges and contribute even more to our global economy. This is our common task to be taken seriously by all. I commit to listening very carefully to your concerns, and to working with you as we move forward. We are on this journey together.