Landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) lack territorial access to the sea which means they can face significant challenges in trade, transport and infrastructure amongst other areas. All LLDCs have low gross domestic product (GDP) and low human development. A large proportion of the 32 landlocked developing countries are also classified as least developed countries. There are 16 LLDCs located in Africa, 10 in Asia, 4 in Europe and 2 in Latin America with a total population of 442.5 million in 2012. Because of their geographic location and lack of access to the seas, such country face enormous challenges such as low level of trade, poor infrastructure, fragile political situations and costly administrative practices.
The Non-Aligned Movement has reaffirmed the special needs of and challenges faced by the landlocked developing countries caused by their lack of territorial access to the sea, aggravated by the remoteness from world markets and also the concern that the economic growth and social well-being of landlocked developing countries remain very vulnerable to external shocks as well as the multiple challenges the international community faces including the financial and economic crisis and climate changes.
NAM has stressed the need for the international community to enhance development assistance to landlocked developing countries to help them overcome their vulnerabilities, build resilience and set themselves on a path of sustainable social and economic development. They also stress the urgent need to address the special development needs of and challenges faced by the landlocked and transit developing countries through the full, timely and effective implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action.
The objective of the Almaty Programme of Action is to establish a new global framework for developing efficient transit transport systems in landlocked and transit developing countries, taking into account the interests of both landlocked and transit developing countries. The Programme aims to secure access to and from the sea by all means of transport; reduce costs and improve services so as to increase the competitiveness of their exports; reduce the delivered costs of imports; address problems of delays and uncertainties in trade routes; develop adequate national networks; reduce loss, damage and deterioration en route; open the way for export expansion; and improve the safety of road transport and the security of people along the corridors.
Since the midterm review of the Programme of Action, Asia-Pacific landlocked developing countries have made progress in the areas of accession to international conventions, sub regional agreements, national coordination and application of tools and technology to monitor and improve transport facilitation and border crossing. International conventions provide frameworks for harmonization and simplification of formalities and procedures. In South East Asia, two prominent NAM Member States, Thailand and Vietnam have extended their cooperation with Laos, a landlocked nation to realise the goals of the Almaty Declaration. In June 2009, the transport ministers of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Thailand and Vietnam officially initiated trilateral cross-border land transport operations along the East-West Economic Corridor at Mukdahan (Thailand), Savannakhet (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), and Lao Bao (Viet Nam). This sub regional agreement has provided the Lao People’s Democratic Republic with new opportunities for international transport and trade. India, one of the founding NAM Member State has helped in building roads, bridges and hydroelectric plants in Bhutan, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Nepal.
NAM has also commended the work of the of international think tank for the landlocked developing countries in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, which engages in research and advocacy building to improve the ability of landlocked developing countries to build capacity with a view to benefiting from the international trade including WTO negotiations, with the ultimate aim of raising human development and reducing poverty. The Movement has also welcomed the Ulaanbaatar Declaration adopted at the Asia- Pacific High-level Policy Dialogue on the Implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action and other development gaps faced by the Landlocked Developing Countries held in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia from 12-14 April 2011 which renewed the commitments for the successful implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action within the overarching framework of achieving the Millennium Development Goals.