Landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) from across the world have been facing several trade and development challenges due to lack of territorial access to the sea. Since such countries do not have an easy access to international markets because of their geographical remoteness, they are bound to change their mode of transport frequently as their exports and imports are transited through at least one adjoining nation. This leads to subsequent rise in trade cost of LLDCs, which is a major factor to prevent their effective integration into the global trading system. This group of countries faces difficulties because of their geographical challenges coupled with weak transit-transport infrastructure, inefficient customs operations, and over-dependence on the experts of primary commodities. The LLDCs are forced to become least developed countries (LDCs) due to their economic and other disadvantages. In terms of poverty, the inhabitants of these countries occupy the bottom billion tier of the world’s population.
Currently, there are 32 nations belong to the group of LLDCs worldwide. Of them, 16 are in Africa, 12 in Asia, two each in Latin America and Central and Eastern Europe. Nepal is one of them. The LLDCs are home to an estimated 468 million people. Interestingly, not a single LLDC is a highly developed nation as measured by the Human Development Index (HDI). Nine of the 12 countries with the lowest HDI scores are landlocked. However, landlocked countries in Europe are exceptions in terms of development with their close integration with the regional market. The international community has adopted the Vienna Programme of Action (VPoA) for LLDCs for the decade 2014-2024. The programme has been in implementation taking the special development needs of LLDCs into consideration. It aims to help the LLDCs achieve sustainable and inclusive growth and to eradicate poverty. The programme is expected to assist these countries to accomplish the various Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has helped these countries in identifying growth opportunities and supporting measures to harness the potential of their natural resources for economic diversification, including by facilitating their participation in regional and global commodity value chains. Besides, the UN agency supports them to formulate policies in order to enhance their productive capacities. These countries also need to play a pivotal role in tackling their development challenges and obstacles in order to bring about positive changes in the lives of their people. Minister for Foreign Affairs Pradeep Kumar Gyawali has emphasised the need for the LLDCs to forge effective partnership among themselves as well as their transit partners for boosting connectivity and development. While addressing the annual ministerial meeting of the LLDCs, which was organized on the sidelines of the ongoing 74th session of the United nations General Assembly in New York the other day, Minister Gyawali said that the infrastructure gap in those countries was much wider as compared to other nations. He suggested that the LLDCs should accord top priority to building connectivity, including through durable and effective partnership between and among themselves and their transit and development partners. As these countries have mostly common issues and challenges, they must make more collaborative efforts to address them and enhance their competitive edge.