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World Bank Supports New Actions to Improve Connectivity of Land-locked Countries

November 6, 2014


Trucks driving through Kathmandu, Nepal

U.S. Pacific Air Forces/Flickr

  • Landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) face higher transport and trade costs, with serious consequences on their overall economic performance
  • The World Bank and the United Nations have been working hand in hand to implement holistic transport and trade facilitation programs and better connect LLDCs to the global economy
  • At a recent UN Conference on LLDCs, the World Bank reaffirmed its commitment to improving trade and transport in landlocked countries, and expressed its support for a new Programme of Action for the Decade 2014-2024

Landlocked countries can improve their connectivity by strengthening cooperation with their transit neighbors and other global partners, as well as pursuing specific actions to reduce trade and transport costs while expanding broadband coverage.

This was one of the main conclusions of the Second United Nations Conference on Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs), hosted by the government of Austria in Vienna from November 3-5.  The UN Conference also adopted a new Program of Action for LLDCs to be implemented over the next decade.

The Program of Action establishes six priorities, including:

  • Fundamental transit policy issues
  • Infrastructure development and maintenance
  • International trade and trade facilitation
  • Regional integration and cooperation
  • Structural economic transformation; and
  • The means of implementation

The World Bank’s delegation was led by Senior Director for Transport and ICT Global Practice, Pierre Guislain, who strongly welcomed and supported the new Program of Action for LLDCs.

“The World Bank will actively support LLDCs and their transit neighbors through programs that work towards the reduction of transport and trade costs along the main trade routes important to LLDCs,” Guislain said in a statement delivered at the plenary of the conference.

Guislain also mentioned the importance of strengthening the transport and logistics sectors by phasing out anti-competitive practices; improving intermodal connections, especially at the interface between ports and rail or roads, as well as in the aviation sector; and expanding broadband coverage.

" The World Bank will actively support Landlocked Developing Countries and their transit neighbors through programs that work towards the reduction of transport and trade costs. "

Pierre Guislain

World Bank Senior Director for Transport & ICT

Landlocked developing countries are home to 440 million people, but represent only about one percent of world trade, due to inherent geographic disadvantages compared to countries with seacoasts and deep-sea ports.

“Despite some gains in the past decade, these 32 countries remain marginalized in the global economy, facing costs of trade that are 70 percent higher than transit coastal countries,” Guislain explained at the conference’s plenary. “Most LLDCs are also in the ‘bottom billion’, with an average real GDP per capita of $800, compared with $2,800 for transit countries.”

In order to help address some of the challenges land-locked countries face, the World Bank Group provides more than $2 billion per year in investments and technical assistance projects. Some of these projects, for example, include major regional transport corridor programs in Central Asia or broadband fiber connectivity for landlocked countries in Africa. 

In addition to funding ‘hard’ infrastructure, the Bank also works with clients on the policy interventions that underpin many of today’s LLDC success stories: from customs reform to better regulation of trucking and other transport segments.

The World Bank also encouraged landlocked and transit countries to follow the UN Broadband Commission’s recommendations, in particular the adoption of a national broadband strategy and making broadband affordable to all through adequate regulatory and market reforms.

“Allow me to reiterate our strong commitment to work with you as clients and partners of the World Bank Group towards our common goal of ending extreme poverty and bolstering shared prosperity in the landlocked developing countries of the world,” Guislain concluded.