29 August 2003


UN Committed to Helping Landlocked Developing Countries Overcome Obstacles to Development Says Secretary-General to Almaty Conference 

NEW YORK, 28 August (UN Headquarters) -- Following is Secretary-General Kofi Annan's message to the International Ministerial Conference of Landlocked and Transit Developing Countries and Donor Countries and International Financial and Development Institutions on Transit Transport Cooperation, delivered by Anwarul K. Chowdhury, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, in Almaty, 28 August:

It gives me great pleasure to convey my greetings to all who have gathered in Almaty for this first global conference to address the particular needs and problems of landlocked developing countries.  Let me thank the people and the Government of Kazakhstan for hosting this landmark event.

Geographical factors put landlocked developing countries at a distinct disadvantage in the development process.  Lacking unfettered access to the sea, they can be shut out of many potential markets and face major obstacles if they do not have the adequate transport infrastructure needed for coastal access.  Moreover, given that goods need to cross borders and that transit procedures are often cumbersome, transport is especially costly, affecting not only their export competitiveness, but also their access to the imported goods they need.  Indeed, for landlocked developing countries, shipping and transit costs represent an even greater constraint than tariffs to greater participation in international trade.  The establishment of efficient transit transport systems is vital for their integration into the world economy.  This is also an area where the untapped potential of South-South cooperation should be fully utilized.

The United Nations has long recognized the special needs of landlocked developing countries and remains strongly committed to helping them to overcome the formidable obstacles to their development.  Special efforts are being made throughout the United Nations system to ensure that their concerns are taken into account in our decision-making.  The General Assembly established the Office of the High Representative to ensure coordination and monitoring of the internationally agreed measures in favour of landlocked developing countries.  And the global campaign that I have launched to achieve the Millennium Development Goals puts a strong emphasis on the special needs of the landlocked developing countries.

This conference is an opportunity for landlocked and transit developing countries and their development partners, including the private sector, to forge strong partnerships and draw much-needed attention to these issues.  I wish you all success in your important deliberations.


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