The “Vienna Programme of Action” adopted at the end of the Second UN Conference on Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) includes trade and trade facilitation as one of its six priorities. It states:
“The Agreement on Trade Facilitation and its timely implementation in the context of the Bali package are important so as to facilitate trade for landlocked developing countries. The Agreement includes important provisions on technical assistance and capacity-building to help landlocked developing countries to implement it effectively.”
LLDCs are often prevented from participating fully in international trade by their very high transaction costs, as exports can have to cross multiple borders to reach their markets. A World Bank study found that, on average, it costs more than $3,000 to export a standard container of cargo from a landlocked developing country compared to just under $1,300 for a coastal country.
Once implemented, the Trade Facilitation Agreement, which was agreed by all WTO members in Bali last December, will help to speed up the transit of goods to and from LLDCs, while also reducing the costs involved.
However, since July WTO members have been unable to find consensus on the implementation of the Agreement. DG Azevêdo urged members on 31 October to continue talking about ways to resolve the impasse.
DG Azevêdo said:
“The landlocked developing countries had a prominent voice in the negotiations which led to the Trade Facilitation Agreement. Today they are calling once again for the Agreement to be implemented so that they can improve their economic prospects and lift their people out of poverty. The voices of the LLDCs must be heard — and others should listen carefully to what they have to say.”
DG Azevêdo attended the conference on 3 November to highlight what the WTO was doing for LLDCs, and the importance of implementing the Trade Facilitation Agreement in their interests. His speech is available here.
Mr Gyan Chandra Acharya, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, said:
“This Trade Facilitation Agreement when it is fully implemented has the potential to address some of the fundamental transit policy issues that affect LLDC exports and will bring concrete benefits to these countries in terms of easier and faster cross-border trade.”
Ambassador Juan Esteban Aguirre Martínez of Paraguay, who coordinates the LLDCs at the WTO, said:
“The Trade Facilitation Agreement will bring concrete benefits to LLDCs in terms of easier and faster cross-border trade. Being able to facilitate the flow of trade making it quicker, easier and cheaper would allow LLDCs to benefit more fully from market access and significantly improve their competitiveness and integration into the world markets.”