Land-locked developing countries (LLDCs)
are widely dispersed around the globe: 15 are located in Africa, 12 in Asia, 2 in Latin America and 2 in Central and Eastern Europe. LLDCs, as a group, are among the most disadvantaged countries. They face severe challenges to growth and development due to a wide range of factors
- a poor physical infrastructure,
- weak institutional and productive capacities,
- small domestic markets,
- remoteness from world markets, and
- a high vulnerability to external shocks.
For example, four LLDCs in Central Asia are located at least 3,500 kilometres away from the nearest maritime port, and seven face distances in excess of 1,500 kilometres away from sea ports. Moreover, the transit of overseas goods through the territory of at least one neighbouring State, and the frequent change of mode of transport result in high transaction costs and reduced international competitiveness.
Responding to the transit problems of LLDCs requires a multidimensional approach to land-lockedness. This notably implies developing adequate national transport networks and efficient transit systems, promoting regional or sub-regional economic integration, and encouraging foreign direct investment in economic activities that are not distance-sensitive.
In 2003, the UN convened in Almaty (Kazakhstan)
an international ministerial conference to enhance transit transport cooperation between land-locked and transit developing countries. The Almaty Programme of Action
deals with infrastructure development and maintenance, transit policy issues, and trade facilitation measures. Within its mandate, UNCTAD participates in the implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action through analytical work on the transit transport and related development problems faced by LLDCs, and technical assistance to these countries in areas such as trade facilitation and electronic commerce.
In 2005, the first meeting of LLDC Ministers responsible for trade, in Asuncion (Paraguay)
, adopted the Asunción Platform for the Doha Development Round
to harmonize the positions of LLDCs in the current round of multilateral trade negotiations.
The 2005 World Summit recognized the special needs of, and challenges faced by LLDCs, and reaffirmed the commitment by the international community to urgently address these needs and challenges through the full, timely and effective implementation of relevant internationally agreed programmes and objectives, in particular the Almaty Declaration
and the Almaty Programme of Action
. It encouraged ongoing work to establish a time-cost methodology based on indicators to measure progress in the implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action. The World Summit also recognized the special concerns of LLDCs in their efforts to better integrate their economies in the multilateral trading system.