40th Plenary Meeting of General Assembly 74th Session

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05-Dec-2019 02:29:31
World leaders adopt political declaration to address special needs of landlocked developing countries, promote strong partnerships with neighbours at 39th and 40th plenary meetings.

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World leaders today adopted the Political Declaration of the High‑level Midterm Review on the Implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action for Landlocked Developing Countries for the Decade 2014‑2024, at the outset of a two‑day General Assembly gathering to address these nations’ special needs and challenges.

By the Political Declaration’s terms, the Heads of State and Government, ministers and high representatives, reaffirmed their commitment to the full, effective and timely implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action. They also proposed durable, transparent, accountable and effective partnerships between landlocked developing countries, transit countries and their development partners.

By other terms, leaders noted that, since 2014, many landlocked developing countries have placed structural economic transformation at the centre of national development plans. As such, they have adopted strategies for diversification and upgrading of their economies, industrialization, export promotion and private sector development. However, these countries have made limited progress towards achieving structural transformation, with limited manufacturing and industrial capacity to create high‑value-added products, and the economies of some landlocked developing countries even show signs of de‑industrialization.

Leaders observed, in the Political Declaration, that landlocked developing countries and transit countries should consider promoting a corridor approach to improving trade and transit transport. As such, they called upon these countries to reduce travel time along the corridors, promote regional connectivity and maximize associated economic opportunities. They also called upon these countries to develop regionally integrated, sustainable, climate‑ and disaster‑resilient transport infrastructure. Further, they called upon development partners and multilateral development banks to support landlocked developing countries in strengthening trade financing.

Also by its terms, leaders encouraged landlocked developing countries to continue making improvements in the regulatory environment for business, in particular for micro‑, small‑ and medium‑sized enterprises. They also encouraged these countries to strengthen their efforts in raising domestic resources, including through carrying out reforms in tax administration, broadening the tax base and strengthening domestic capital markets. As such, they called upon the international community to assist these efforts.

United Nations Secretary‑General António Guterres, in his opening remarks to the two‑day High‑level Midterm Review, said that in adopting the Political Declaration, States must help turn landlocked developing countries into land‑linked places of prosperity and opportunity. While headway has been made on implementing the Vienna Programme of Action, trade integration remains low, with these countries accounting for less than 1 per cent of global exports. Moreover, infrastructure is inadequate, foreign direct investment has continued to decline and the global climate crisis is having a severe impact

“We need the right policy mix, increased investment, reliable transit infrastructure, efficient customs operations and improved access and use of technology,” he said. “Let us join forces to help the world’s 32 landlocked developing countries achieve sustainable transformations and better standard of living for the more than 500 million people who call these countries home.”

General Assembly President Tijjani Muhammad‑Bande (Nigeria) said “landlocked developing countries are at risk of being left behind.” Noting that many of these countries are below the range of high human development according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and one third of their populations live in extreme poverty, he said “many of these nations continue to struggle in the shadows of historical injustices.”

Also addressing the opening segment was the Foreign Secretary of Bhutan whose delegation co-facilitated the Political Declaration’s negotiations. He reported that Bhutan has made significant progress, and if all goes well, it will be the first landlocked developing State to graduate from the “least developed country” category in 2023. Its development priorities have evolved from building basic infrastructure to investing in services and boosting the economy. Over the last 10 years, its gross domestic product (GDP) has more than tripled, with per capita income doubling, he said.

However, Paraguay’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, pointed out that during the first five years of the Vienna Programme of Action’s implementation, the annual GDP of landlocked developing countries has shrunk and their human development indices have remained below the global average. Nevertheless, some progress has been made including in health, education, gender equality, and access to potable water and information and communications technology (ICT). These countries have strengthened regional integration and more have ratified the World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement and other regional and international transport and transit instruments, he added.

Many delegates highlighted regional initiatives aimed at aiding landlocked developing countries, with China’s representative reporting that its Belt and Road Initiative will continue to support their efforts in infrastructure, trade, digital industry and energy. Pakistan’s delegate, noting that his country has joined the initiative, said it promotes transnational connectivity and facilitates cooperation. The China‑Pakistan economic corridor is a central part of that network and is the fastest and most effective among all projects in the initiative, he said, adding that these activities are expected to improve the lives of an estimated 3 billion people in the region.

Kazakhstan’s representative reported that it has built more than 2,500 kilometres of railroad, reconstructed 12,000 kilometres of highways, opened the Western Europe‑Western China automobile transit corridor, built the Khorgos Gateway dry port on the border with China and modernized the Aktau port on the Caspian Sea. Today, Kazakhstan’s 11 international transit corridors let goods move from Europe to Asia much faster than by sea and more cheaply than by air transport, he said.

In other matters, the Assembly decided to postpone its date of recess to Tuesday, 24 December 2019 and extend the work of its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) to 24 December 2019.

Also speaking today were representatives of Eswatini, Malawi, Norway (on behalf of the Nordic Countries), Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Tajikistan, Chad, Austria, the Gambia, Afghanistan, Ireland, Egypt, Italy, Canada, Zambia, Indonesia, Cuba, Armenia, Ecuador, Botswana, Panama, India, Russian Federation, Lesotho, Eritrea, Zimbabwe, Uzbekistan, Mongolia, Chile, Morocco, Mexico, United States, Argentina, Ethiopia, Kyrgyzstan, Rwanda, Kenya, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Fiji, United Kingdom, Uganda, South Africa, Mali and Brazil.

An observer for the European Union and the Permanent Observer for State of Palestine, on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, also delivered statements. Representatives from the International Think Tank for Landlocked Developing Countries, the International Renewable Energy Agency and the African Development Bank also spoke.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Friday, 6 December, to hold panel discussions on the topic.

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Parent ID
2510426
Asset ID
2511102