WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya addressed delegates at the high-level opening ceremony of the United Nations Conference in Vienna on 3 November 2014.
The Conference aimed to seek a renewed political commitment to address the special needs of landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) and identify priorities, ways, and means to address them. This was the second Conference after the first one held in Almaty, Kazakhstan in 2003. The Conference takes place only once a decade and is an important milestone for formulating a focused, forward-looking and action-oriented development agenda for LLDCs for the next decade.
Secretary General Mikuriya made a statement together with other heads of international organizations, including Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, and Mr. Roberto Azevêdo, Director General of the World Trade Organization, and several heads of state, including President Heinz Fischer of Austria. In his remarks, he highlighted the importance for Customs administrations to establish an effective and efficient transit regime which is an essential element to promote regional economic integration and ensure economic growth of LLDCs.
He also used his speech to launch the WCO Transit Handbook that the Permanent Technical Committee finalized last week. Secretary General Mikuriya announced that the Transit Handbook would be formally published shortly after further editing and incorporating the outcomes of the Conference. He also described other WCO instruments that facilitate transit, including the Revised Kyoto Convention and the Time Release Study. He gave an assurance of enhanced delivery of technical assistance and capacity building for LLDCs through the Mercator Programme, a tailor-made assistance programme supported by a wealth of instruments and best practices, a network of accredited experts and a comprehensive donor engagement mechanism. Source: WCO
Thirty-one countries belong currently to the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries: 15 are located in Africa, 12 in Asia, 2 in Latin America and 2 in Central and Eastern Europe. The lack of territorial access to the sea poses persistent challenges to growth and development of these countries and has been the main factor hindering their ability to better integrate in the global trading system. The transit of export and import goods through the territory of at least one neighboring State and the frequent change of mode of transport result in high transaction costs and reduced international competitiveness.
For more details on LLDCs visit – Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs)
The 2003 Almaty Programme of Action highlighted the link between the ability of LLDCs to harness their trade potential and the state of the transport infrastructure and the efficiency of trade facilitation measures in neighboring transit countries and called for international support in favor of LLDCs. The United Nations General Assembly in its resolution 66/214 of 22 December 2011 and resolution 67/222 of 3 April 2013 decided to hold a Comprehensive Ten-Year Review Conference of the Almaty Programme of Action in 2014 with a view to formulating and adopting a renewed development partnership framework for LLDCs for the next decade.
It is expected that the ten-year review will provide an opportunity for: (i) assessing progress made in establishing efficient transit transport systems in landlocked developing countries since the adoption of APoA in August 2003, and particularly after the midterm review of 2008; and (ii) agreeing on actions needed to sustain achievements and address challenges in overcoming the special problems of landlocked developing countries around the world.
It would appear that this programme very much supports the creation of inland ports connected to the seaports by means of secure and bonded facilities – within the ambit international law, i.e. WTO (Trade Facilitation Agreement) and the WCO (Revised Kyoto Convention). The question arises as to whether an inland port located in Botswana, Zimbabwe or any adjoining country be able to demand such rights where a ‘corridor’ country or country providing international seaport access to LLDCs does not observe or accept international transit principles?