1 October 2008The United Nations today began three days of high-level consultations aimed at boosting foreign direct investment in the world’s 31 landlocked developing countries (LLDC) to strengthen their participation in international trade and the global economy. The United Nations today began three days of high-level consultations aimed at boosting foreign direct investment in the world’s 31 landlocked developing countries (LLDC) to strengthen their participation in international trade and the global economy. “As we attempt to find long-term solutions to their plight, external investment is critical in enabling landlocked developing countries to substantially mitigate their unfavourable geographical locations,” Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro told a high-level investment forum at UN Headquarters in New York. Speaking on the eve of a two-day High-level Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly devoted to the mid-term review of the Almaty Programme of Action, a 2003 plan setting out specific measures to help landlocked countries, she noted that despite “much progress” in the past five years many still remain marginalized from the world economy with limited access to global markets and to the sea for external trade. “The Almaty Programme highlights the role that foreign direct investment could play in this process,” Ms. Migiro said. “Foreign direct investment has a great potential as contributor to growth and development. It can bring capital, technology, management know-how and access to new markets. In comparison with other forms of capital flows, it is also more stable, with a longer-term commitment to the host economy.” Although LLDCs represent about 15 per cent of States, their share of world exports has remained well below 1 per cent. Cheick Sidi Diarra, the UN High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS), also noted the progress made since 2003. But he warned: “The high cost of international trade continues to hinder their trade and economic development.” The Almaty Programme is the first global action plan negotiated at ministerial level to provide a framework for cooperation between landlocked and transit access developing countries, promising reductions in red tape and transportation costs and time. At the time of its adoption transport services through access countries consumed on average 15 per cent of export earnings of LLDCs – and as much as half for some African nations. In comparison, other developing countries spent an average of only 7 per cent on transport services, and the developed countries only 3 to 4 per cent. The Programme established for the first time agreement in principle on compensating landlocked countries for their geographical handicaps with improved market access and trade facilitation. With seven years left for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the ambitious targets set by the UN Millennium Summit of 2000 to slash poverty, hunger, preventable illness and a host of other socio-economic ills, all by 2015, Ms. Migiro called for accelerated progress in the LLDCs. “These countries require our collective special attention,” she said.