ITC to help implement UN’s new Vienna Programme of Action for Landlocked Developing Countries

6 November 2014
ITC News

ITC welcomes the new UN agenda for landlocked developing countries, and stands ready to build on its work with LLDCs to help their firms drive growth, productivity, and job creation through integration into the world economy.

The Vienna Programme of Action for LLDCs for the Decade 2014-2024 (VPoA) was adopted this week by the Second United Nations Conference on Landlocked Developing Countries, which ran from 3-5 November in the Austrian capital. The programme’s implementation-oriented agenda for overcoming the challenges imposed by geography on the 32 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America that lack territorial access to the sea. Trade is at the heart of the VPoA: reducing transit and trading costs, promoting regional integration, and improving trade capacity and infrastructure are rightly identified as essential for LLDCs to develop and diversify their economies. The programme outlines specific actions for LLDC governments, transit countries, development partners, and the private sector.

‘The main message coming out of this conference is that instead of looking at land-lockedness as an impediment, we should focus on opportunities to land-link countries’, said ITC Executive Director Arancha González. Emphasizing that reducing high trading costs would bolster LLDCs’ competitiveness and prospects for integrating into global value chains, particularly for SMEs, she praised the VPoA’s focus on specific results. ‘Vienna gives us a compass, but also a checklist – business, governments, and civil society know what we have to do, and we will be held accountable.’

González highlighted that services trade in particular provided a potential avenue for LLDCs to reach over their neighbours to connect to international markets.

ITC’s work to support the implementation of the VPoA will fall into four main categories of targeted interventions:

  1. Helping LLDCs address non-tariff barriers to trade, informed by the obstacles reported by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in a series of ITC business surveys about non-tariff measures
  2. Assisting governments to manage cross-border operations efficiently. Trade facilitation is especially critical for landlocked countries, and is essential for boosting the competitiveness of their SMEs, which generally lack their larger competitors’ resources to navigate complex border procedures.
  3. Building productive capacities and trade and investment support institutions to help LLDCs connect with global and regional value chains, as a means to facilitate economic diversification and employment creation.
  4. Enabling trade in services. Land-locked countries are neither air-locked nor e-locked. Policy and regulatory reforms to create a business environment conducive to efficient air transport and telecommunications services would help the private sector in LLDCs effectively connect to international markets. The services sector is potentially both a direct driver of exports and an enabler of competitiveness in other sectors of LLDC economies.

ITC will continue its ongoing work in other areas identified by the VPoA, such as assisting LLDCs with WTO accession, regional trade and investment integration, and increasing South-South trade.

ITC was represented in Vienna by Deputy Executive Director Dorothy Tembo, who delivered a plenary speech on 'Harnessing International Trade and Investment for LLDCs’ at the high-level thematic roundtable.

ITC also organized a side event, with the France-based Foundation for International Development Studies (FERDI), on how Aid for Trade to support regional economic integration can help accelerate development in LLDCs.