There must be guarantee of unobstructed transit connectivity for all landlocked countries at all times : Commerce Minister Pun

Madam Chairperson

Fellow Ministers

His Excellency Mr. Gyan Chandra Acharya

Distinguished Delegates

Let me begin by thanking you, Mr. Chairman, and your delegation for coordinating the LLDC interests in the WTO process.

I thank the High Representative, Mr. Gyan Chandra Acharya for his comprehensive and insightful remarks.

The Landlocked Developing Countries face certain common identified problems and challenges that keep them remote and isolated from the international market. These countries suffer from a narrow production base and productivity, low growth of economy, poor infrastructure connectivity as well as inadequate trade facilitation measures for link with the market, and integration into the global trading system. They have to bear relatively high cost in doing business as compared to their coastal neighbors. LLDC countries, therefore, must work in solidarity and union for harmonization of policy and strategy to confront their common challenges.

Mr. Chairman,

LLDCs account for 1.2 percent of global exports, and remain among the poorest and most marginalized countries in the global economy. The high transport and trade transaction costs, lack of equitable access to the global markets and poor integration into the global economy lower their trade competitiveness. They suffer from deficient transport infrastructures and lack of easy and cost-efficient access to the sea.  Utilization of trade as an engine of sustained growth and development is a big challenge for these countries.

Needless to say, an LLDC has to rely on the territories of a transit country for access to the sea. Several applicable trade and transit related conventions, regional and bilateral arrangements as well as internationally agreed development goals such as the Vienna Programme of Action are there to take care of the special needs of the LLDCs. However, many LLDCs like Nepal still find it difficult to enjoy even the fundamental rights of transit and free access to the sea. Periodic hardships and hassles in the utilization of transit transport facilities come to their misery under one or the other pretext. As any disruption in transit transport is tantamount to cutting the vital lifeline of an LLDC economy, we stress that there must be a guarantee of unobstructed transit transport connectivity for all landlocked countries at all times.

Mr. Chairman,

A secure, reliable and efficient transit transport system reduces trade transaction costs, and enhances the competitiveness of LLDCs products in the regional and global markets. Improvement of trade facilitation infrastructures as well as simplification and standardization of rules and regulations pertaining to trade and transit are other necessary measures in this regard. We are of the view that balanced and sustained bilateral, sub-regional and regional approaches to transit, transport and trade cooperation, coupled with efforts of equitable integration into the global economy, offer LLDCs efficient choices in doing business, and attracting trade-related investments.

We believe that concerns and special needs of the LLDCs deserve special attention under the Multilateral Trading System of WTO. We must continue our efforts for special recognition of our group’s interests in all multilateral forums and processes. Trade facilitation measures are important for the growth and expansion of the external trade. In this context, we look forward to coming into effect of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). To help the LLDCs take full benefit under the TFA, the international community must provide technical assistance and support for capacity building through augmentation and an early operationalization of the Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility.

Finally, Mr. Chairman, LLDCs suffer a loss of around 20 percent in development terms as compared to the countries on the coastal regions. To overcome this handicap and other related challenges in trade and transit issues, the six priority areas of action identified under the Vienna Programme of Action (2014-2024) must be implemented faithfully. A concerted and coherent support from all development partners, including the transit providing country, is highly desirable to translate this comprehensive programme into reality. These countries need faster integration into the regional and world markets so that they can move towards achieving the internationally agreed development goals, including the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development adopted in September this year.

Thank you.

(Statement by the Hon’ble Minister for Commerce and Supplies of Nepal, Mr. Ganesh Man Pun, at the Land-locked Developing Countries (LLDCs) Trade Ministers’ meeting on the Margin of the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference, 16 December 2015 Nairobi, Kenya)

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