African Regional Review Meeting of Almaty Programme of Action opens in Addis Ababa, hosted by the Economic Commission for Africa
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, June 19, 2008/African Press Organization (APO)/ — “The peculiar challenge faced by landlocked developing countries due to lack of territorial access to the sea and international waterways… limits their scope for effective participation in international commerce.”
This statement was made today by the UN-Under Secretary and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Mr. Abdoulie Janneh in his welcoming address to around 80 representatives of African landlocked and transit countries and other stakeholders including donor countries, and international organizations who gathered for four days in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) to review the implementation at the regional level of the Almaty Programme of Action, five years after its adoption.
Africa’s region accounts for 15 landlocked countries in need of collaboration from their neighboring transit countries to overcome the constraints they face in their quest for greater access to international trading system. Mr. Janneh indicated however that:” the success of the Almaty Programme will continue to depend a great deal on…efforts deployed by landlocked and transit developing countries themselves to improve transit transport infrastructure, provide efficient services and generate required resources”.
In this regard, it has become imperative to deepen regional cooperation, harness the potential offered by public-private partnerships, scale up domestic resources mobilization and boost investor confidence in the regulatory framework, added Mr. Janneh.
The African Regional Review meeting of the Almaty Programme of Action is being co-organized by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the Office of the United Nations High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States. The Head of this Office, Mr. Cheick Sidi Diarra, who is also the United Nations Special Adviser on Africa noted that: “Despite increased development aid, debt relief and greater access to international markets, the marginalization of landlocked developing countries in the global economy has not reduced fundamentally”. In this respect, he lamented the lack of significant improvement in transit transport infrastructure.
Road density in Africa is only half that of Latin America and a third that of Asia, which leaves Africa with some of the highest transport costs in the world and, consequently, uncompetitive costs of doing business.
Against this background, participants to the Addis Review meeting will devote a great deal of attention to how WTO negotiations on Trade Facilitation, as well as the Aid for Trade Initiative can be harnessed to address the special needs of landlocked and transit countries in terms of a better access to international trade. Other key issues on the agenda include: fundamental transit policy, infrastructure development and maintenance as well as international support measures.
The Almaty Programme of Action, which was adopted in 2003, sets out specific action-oriented measures to be undertaken by both landlocked and transit developing countries with the support of their development partners in priority areas. The outcomes of the African review meeting will be considered in October this year by participants to the global Review which will take in New-York.
SOURCE : UNITED NATIONS