Statement by H.E. Mr. J.Enkhsaikhan,
Permanent Representative of Mongolia to the
United Nations, in the plenary of the
Fifth Meeting of Governmental Experts
from Landlocked and Transit Developing Countries
and Representatives of Donor Countries
and Financial and Development Institutions
New York, 30 July, 2001
At the outset, allow me to congratulate you on your election once again as the Chairman of our meeting, to which we, landlocked developing countries attach special importance. I would like also to congratulate the Vice-Chairmen on their well-deserved election and express my delegation’s confidence that under your skillful leadership the meeting will achieve its major objectives.
In the two years since our last meeting, progress has been registered in implementing its recommendations. Among positive steps we could mention further institutionalization of the landlocked developing countries’ (LLDCs) group. Thus, meeting of the ministers of LLDCs at the beginning of General Assembly sessions is being institutionalized. Furthermore, issues pertaining to the special circumstances and challenges of the group have found due reflection in a number of important international documents, such as UNCTAD X, the Millennium Declaration, the Declaration of the South Summit and, most recently, in the Brussels Declaration and Program of Action adopted at the Third UN Conference on Least Developed Countries. For this my delegation wishes to especially commend the efforts of the current chair of LLDCs - the Lao Democratic People’s Republic - and particularly its Ambassador Kittikhoun.
In the past two years UNCTAD continued to lend its services and assistance to LLDCs. My special thanks go in particular to Mr. Habib Ouane, Acting Special Coordinator for LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS and his staff for their dedicated work and valuable assistance. In this connection, I wish to emphasize the importance of the point raised in the statement of the Chairman of LLDCs made earlier today that due priority should be accorded to LLCDs when strengthening the Unit for Landlocked developing countries and small island developing states, especially when strengthening it with highly qualified human and sufficient financial resources.
I would like to commend UNCTAD for a well balanced and thorough report prepared for this meeting. The report provides a comprehensive illustration and detailed analysis of challenges faced by LLDCs in today’s increasingly globalizing world. The report demonstrates yet again the highly disadvantaged position of LLDCs not only compared to developed countries, but even within the group of developing countries.
The aforementioned highlights the need for a closer cooperation among the developing countries so as to narrow the big gap in transit transport costs between them. The current trend in relations between landlocked and transit developing countries, that can be characterized at times as contesting, needs to be reversed and cooperation ought to be brought to a new level. Focus should be placed not so much on the issues that divide, but on the “deliverables” that promise mutual benefit.
My delegation fully supports recommendations made in the UNCTAD report that underlines the necessity of cooperation between landlocked and transit countries, of providing greater financial and technical assistance to landlocked countries so as to develop their transit transport infrastructure, strengthen human and institutional capacity. The report also rightly highlights the necessity of continued support to landlocked and transit countries to conclude and implement sub-regional and regional agreements and arrangements, and to that end increase substantially the ODA provided by developed countries to the LLDCs.
The UNCTAD report draws on a number of useful experiences of LLDCs that demonstrate that positive and tangible results can be achieved. Thus, it refers to deregulation, liberalization, privatization and competition as new instruments conducive to reduction of costs and improvement of efficiency. My delegation believes that it is necessary to increase research and analysis by the UNCTAD of the positive and negative experiences of LLDCs in these areas.
We share the view that future investments should be directed at cost effective development of infrastructure and services, especially for such landlocked countries like Mongolia, which has a vast territory and a small population. A Millennium Road Project, which has been launched a few months ago in Mongolia, will be connected in the east with the East Mongolia-Jilin province-Tumen river route in Northeast Asia, and in the west with the Mount Altay-Biysk-Novosibirsk road in Russia, and will be the shortest road connecting Northeast Asia with Europe. On the other hand, in the southwest, it will be connected with Urumqi in China and furthermore will be the shortest highway connecting Central Asian countries with the Tumen river area. The road will have a significant impact on subregional infrastructure development and has a potential to make Mongolia one of the important transit routes from Northeast Asia to Europe and Central Asia. International assistance and support are important to realize this project that would link the huge markets of East Asia to that of Central Asia and even Europe and become an important transit route.
Taking this opportunity my delegation wishes to commend the continued assistance by the UNCTAD in promoting transit transport cooperation between landlocked and transit countries. The First Sub-regional Consultative Meeting of the Northeast Asia on transit transport cooperation, held with the support of the UNCTAD and SU TCDC, marked an important event in sub-regional cooperation in transit trade. On the basis of the work done at the consultative meeting, a project to promote a sub-regional Transit Traffic Framework Agreement between Mongolia, China and Russia is underway. With the assistance of the UNCTAD and SU TCDC, the parties have successfully organized two rounds of negotiations and preparations for the third meeting are under way. The successful conclusion of the agreement would enhance and facilitate transit trade not only in the subregion, but within wider Northeast Asia, ought to bring down excessively high transit transportation costs and raise efficiency. My delegation strongly believes that continued support by the UNCTAD and SU TCDC is of vital importance to bringing the negotiations to a successful conclusion and thus to promoting trade within and beyond Northeast Asia.
My delegation is hopeful that the current meeting will adopt a decision to hold a Ministerial meeting on transit transport issues in 2003. In this regard, my delegation wishes to welcome the generous offer by Kazakstan to host the meeting.
We believe that the Ministerial meeting should reaffirm the political commitment by all parties concerned to address the challenges facing the LLDCs as well as their transit neighbors. The meeting should also reaffirm that problems of transit transport could only be solved through cooperation between landlocked and transit countries, and the donor community. The meeting is expected to bring trilateral cooperation to a new level and give a greatly needed impetus for concrete actions and guide all to a more fruitful and practical cooperation.
In the view of my delegation, the Ministerial meeting, based on the previous decisions by UN bodies, should review the implementation of the 1995 Global Framework and address the question of its real impact on promotion of transit traffic and facilitation of access of LLDCs to world markets. Besides honestly reviewing the implementation, the Ministerial meeting should, in our view, revisit the Global Framework and establish new horizons for our cooperation. Eight years would have elapsed by 2003 since the adoption of the Global Framework, during which new developments, especially rapidly increasing globalization and its effects, have become a fact of life. Furthermore, cooperation with the private sector in finding solutions to transit transport needs to be addressed. The UNCTAD report provides encouraging examples of constructive involvement and cooperation with the private sector in this area.
As practice demonstrates, an early and thorough preparation ensures success of meetings. As it is rightly emphasized in the report, regional cooperation is of vital importance in solving transit transport problems and my delegation believes that preparations for the Ministerial meeting should involve active regional and subregional dialogues. Issues of common interest arising from regional and subregional discussions could serve as a solid basis of negotiations at the Ministerial meeting.
The report underscores the fact that while the GATT “provisions require tariffs to be assessed on an equal MFN basis,… international transport costs for similar goods may vary markedly across countries”. Not surprisingly, cost of transport in exports from LLDCs are three times greater than those from the developed countries and twice higher than those of the developing countries as a group. In these circumstances its difficult and even impossible to talk about fair trade or fair competition.
Most of the LLDCs are either members of the World Trade Organization or are in the process of becoming one. They are required to comply with far reaching commitments on market access and domestic reform. In the environment of sudden liberalization, often accompanied by deep economic and political reforms, those countries depend heavily on export-based sectors for their economic and social growth. One of the areas of research during the preparation for the Ministerial meeting could involve substantive discussions and work on recommendations on how to advance interests of LLDCs, so that special consideration is given to their circumstances at the new round of trade negotiations, if and when it is to commence.
Another issue that could possibly be discussed is related to the work that is being carried out within the UN to create a development index. Current economic vulnerability index employed by the CDP, while providing so far one of the best available indicators, leaves out in country profiles some indicators that have very significant impact on their vulnerabilities. This has been illustrated quite vividly by examples of some Small Island Developing States that due to structural handicaps have much greater vulnerability than measured through existing EVI. Lack of access to seas and markets and resulting other difficulties surely are one of the major factors that impede development and trade. Surely they affect the vulnerability of states.
My delegation believes that the continued support by the UNCTAD is vital for the success of preparatory work to the Ministerial meeting.
This meeting and the preparatory work to be devised from now on should provide a foundation for a successful Ministerial meeting in 2003. My delegation is confident that the current meeting will able to achieve its desired objectives.