UNESCAP/UN-OHRLLS/UNECE Euro-Asian Regional Midterm Review of the Vienna Programme of Action for the Landlocked Developing Countries for the Decade 2014–2024

11 Feb 2019 to 12 Feb 2019
Bangkok, Thailand

Lack of territorial access to the sea, isolation and remoteness from world markets impose constraints on trade competitiveness of the 32 landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) and their overall socio-economic development. In addition to the geographical impediments, LLDCs face challenges linked to high trade and transport costs, limited or low-quality infrastructure, delays at borders, bottlenecks related to customs procedures and border crossing regulations, and productivity constraints. They are also not able to fully tap into the benefits of trade such as investment, finance, technology and services needed to further improve productive capacity in the sectors (agriculture, industry and services) that are needed for structural transformation of their economies.

To address the challenges of the LLDCs, the international community adopted in 2014 the Vienna Programme of Action (VPoA) for Landlocked Developing Countries for the Decade 2014-2024. The VPoA, which is also an integral part of the 2030 Agenda for Development, offers a holistic approach to improving the integration of LLDCs into the global economy through the following priority areas: Fundamental Transit Policy Issues; Infrastructure Development and Maintenance; International Trade and Trade Facilitation; Regional Integration and Cooperation, Structural Economic Transformation, and Means of Implementation.

Nearing the halfway in the implementation of the VPoA, the LLDCs exhibit mixed results in their progress in achieving the priorities of the Vienna Programme. The real growth in gross domestic product for the LLDCs declined to 2.8% in 2016, down from 5.6% in 2014. The LLDCs continue to account for less than one percent of the global merchandise trade and the exports remain undiversified and comprise mainly of primary commodities. Despite the continued efforts to expand and upgrade the transport infrastructure, inadequate quality and deficiencies in the physical infrastructure remain. Access to electricity in the LLDCs has increased but remains below the world average and costs of ICT services in the LLDCs remain high. Whilst most LLDCs have ratified the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, their implementation of the Agreement lags behind.

The LLDCs have become more active participants in regional trade agreements and economic blocks, bringing positive prospects for their further integration into regional trade. On structural economic transformation, there has been limited progress as demonstrated by the relatively low value-added contribution of the manufacturing sector in the LLDCs. Means of implementation, in particular ODA and FDI flows to LLDCs remain important sources of financing for the LLDCs, however, remain concentrated in just a handful of LLDCs and are insufficient to fully address the needs of the LLDCs.