UN calls for transport connectivity in landlocked countries
The United Nations (UN) has asked the governments to ensure a well-functioning transit transport services and procedures in landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) to survive this pandemic.
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said many LLDCs often the poorest in their regions, had their economic conditions worsen rapidly due to COVID-19 lockdown measures and international restrictions on the movement of goods and people.
“When borders around the globe close, every country suffers, but those without territorial access to the sea are affected in unique ways,” said UNCTAD.
The call for government to help the LLDC were made by the heads of UNCTAD, the UN Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS), and the UN’s regional economic and social commissions for Africa (UN ECA), Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP), Europe (UN ECE) and Latin America and the Caribbean (UN ECLAC).
There were 32 vulnerable nations that lag behind the world average by 20 percent in the UN’s human development index. One-third of their 440 million inhabitants live in extreme poverty, 51 percent face food insecurity daily, and 40 percent lack access to electricity.
“The impacts of a combined lockdown measures, health pandemic and a global recession would likely halt or potentially even reverse LLDCs’ progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals and the aspirations included in the Vienna Programme of Action for the LLDCs for the Decade 2014-2024,” the group said.
“Transit transport is critical for LLDCs in both the short-term health response to the crisis by ensuring the delivery of much-needed medical equipment and basic goods, and the long-term economic response by facilitating trade and access to global markets and spurring economic pick-up post COVID-19,” it added.
Even in normal times, exports and imports in LLDCs must pass through at least one neighboring state and often have to change the transport mode , thus making trade much more complex and costly.
“In these unprecedented times, there is an even more urgent need to ensure smooth transport of goods to and from these countries,” they said.
They pleaded for a decisive and immediate action to help LLDCs while protecting the global public health.
They urged governments to refrain from any unjustified restraints on traffic and goods in transit to make sure that goods, medical equipment and basic goods and commodities can depart from and reach the LLDCs, without hindrance.
The LLDCs and neighboring countries must make use of trade facilitation standards and digital technologies. The crisis can be seen as an opportunity to reorient international freight transport operations towards a more sustainable path. Countries must further strengthen global and regional cooperation on transport connectivity.