UNCTAD puts spotlight on landlocked developing countries ahead of UN conference in Vienna

31 October 2014

Meetings in Geneva and New York consider investment in LLDCs and their participation in regional and global commodity value chains.

​As part of its work to support landlocked developing countries, UNCTAD co-hosted an event in New York on commodity value chains as well as two meetings in Geneva on investment in LLDCs. The meetings came amid preparations for the Second United Nations Conference on Landlocked Developing Countries, to be held 3-5 November in Vienna, where UNCTAD will also be co-hosting two events.
In Geneva, two sessions linked to LLDCs took place during the World Investment Forum on 13-16 October. UNCTAD co-chaired a High-Level Meeting on Investment in LLDCs on 16 October with the UN High Representative for LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS (UN-OHRLLS). Participants, including ministers and business leaders, considered ways to channel greater foreign direct investment (FDI) to LLDCs, and heard calls from LLDC ministers for increased FDI to help their countries develop productive capacities and diversify economically.
Opening the meeting, UNCTAD Secretary-General said: “Given the importance of FDI to this group of economies, more efforts should be made to increase and diversify foreign investments, and to maximize their impact on sustainable development outcomes”.
Also during the WIF, UNCTAD presented its work with investment promotion agencies to provide investors with online up-to-date information on business costs, opportunities and conditions in their countries. The Global iGuides Meeting discussed on-line guides launched in LLDCs, which have included Bhutan, Burundi, Nepal, Uganda and Rwanda.
In New York on 1 October, UNCTAD joined with UN-OHRLLS and the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC), to host a special event on “Ways and means of facilitating the participation of landlocked developing countries in regional and global commodity value chains: Challenges, opportunities and the way forward”. Yamfwa D. Mukanga, M.P. and Minister for Transport, Works, Supply and Communications of Zambia told the meeting that a majority of LLDCs were economically dependent on commodities, especially natural resources, and therefore highly vulnerable to fluctuations in commodity prices. Mr. Mukanga said LLDCs needed to find ways of increasing the value of their commodities and enhancing competitiveness, which would enable them to join regional and global value chains.
The meeting concluded that there was no one size fits all policy prescription to address the commodity problems and challenges facing LLDCs. These countries should design development policies and strategies based on their specific circumstances, institutional capacities and resources base.
Commodities, investment and trade are among the issues that will figure in discussions at the Second UN Conference on Landlocked Developing Countries in Vienna on 3-5 November. The Conference is expected to adopt a Programme of Action for LLDCs covering the next decade. This aims to review and build on the 2003 Almaty Programme of Action for LLDCs, which focused on improving transportation and infrastructure to address the geographic constraints these countries face in trade and economic ties. Since then, there has been widespread recognition of the need for a broader approach that tackles multiple development challenges in LLDCs.
During the Vienna Conference, UNCTAD, UN-OHRLLS and CFC will host a high-level dialogue on “Policies and strategies to turn commodity dependence into sustainable, inclusive and equitable economic growth and development” in LLDCs on 4 November. A meeting on Harvesting Benefits of Trade Facilitation for LLDCs will be co-hosted by UNCTAD and the World Trade Organization, also on 4 November.