(Almaty, 28-29 August 2003)
Statement by Mrs. Brigita Schmögnerová,
Mr. President of the Republic of Kazakhstan,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is an honour and a pleasure for me to attend this important Conference of Landlocked and Transit Developing Countries and Donor Communities on Transit Transport Cooperation. Let me take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to Mr. Anwarul Chowdhury, High Representative for the Least Developing Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States for the invitation to attend this Conference and to the government of Kazakhstan for hosting this meeting here in Almaty.
The Millennium Declaration called on both bilateral and multilateral donors to increase financial and technical assistance to landlocked developing countries to meet their special development needs and to help them improve their transit transport systems. This Conference is a unique opportunity for all of us to review the special needs of this group of countries and to reflect on how best can we contribute to meet them. The Almaty Programme of Action that the Conference is expected to adopt addresses the key issues, including transit policy issues, infrastructure development and maintenance as well as trade and trade facilitation issues.
Let me briefly indicate how the UNECE contributes to the objectives of the Conference. The UNECE, together with ESCAP, is contributing to the Special Programme for the Economies of Central Asia (SPECA), which concerns landlocked and transit developing countries. Under the leadership of Kazakhstan, SPECA is addressing the main infrastructure and border crossing problems of this region.
We are also starting the implementation, jointly with the other UN Regional Commissions, of a Development Account Project on Capacity Building for the development of Interregional Transport Linkages. This project also affects landlocked and transit developing countries, including those of this region.
Furthermore, the UNECE has a long-standing experience and expertise in promoting cooperation of its member countries, 19 of which are landlocked countries, in order to facilitate international transport among them. The results of such cooperation are reflected in a set of international agreements, conventions, resolutions and recommendations on transport, which establish coherent infrastructure networks, simplify border crossings and provide for international widely accepted safety and environmental standards for transport. The implementation of these international instruments by UNECE member countries has significantly contributed to develop international trade and transport in the UNECE region and, thereby, to foster development and integration of European countries, including countries with economies in transition.
Some of these instruments and recommendations, such as the TIR Convention, are of particular interest for landlocked and transit developing countries as well as for transition countries.
Since the 1960s, the UNECE has also developed and maintains a wide range of trade facilitation instruments to promote and implement simpler trade procedures which benefit government administrations, providers of trade-related services and the business sector across the world, of special relevance to landlocked countries. The work on trade facilitation focuses on removing procedural barriers to trade through the elimination of cumbersome procedures to subsequently simplify, harmonize and standardize remaining procedures and data. The results of this work are embedded in our Recommendations for best practices in trade procedures and standards for trade-related transactions.
I believe that the implementation of these UNECE legal instruments and recommendations by landlocked and transit developing countries would go a long way in solving the problems of these countries. The UNECE could, within its limited resources, provide landlocked and transit developing countries with policy advice and recommendations on the implementation of these instruments, as we have done in the past in collaboration with ESCAP and other United Nations Regional Commissions.
Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The UNECE recognizes the special development needs and problems of landlocked and transit developing countries and is ready to consider ways and means along the lines indicated earlier to increase its contribution to the solution of those problems.
I wish the greatest success to this Conference and thank you for your attention.