Home Minister talks about boosting trade competitiveness and capacity building in 13th ministerial meeting of Land Locked Developing Countries

The Home Minister Lyonpo Damcho Dorji addressed the 13th annual ministerial meeting of the Land Locked Developing Countries (LLDCs) in the United Nations this week.

The minister started by thanking Kalaba, Foreign Minister of Zambia for convening this annual ministerial meeting of Landlocked Developing Countries on the sidelines of the 69th GA.

He expressed deep appreciation to the Chair and the delegation of Zambia for their leadership, commitment and hard work in advancing the cause of Landlocked Developing Countries at the UN. In this regard, he acknowledged the efforts made by Ambassador Dr Mwaba P. Kasese-Bota, Permanent Representative of Zambia and her team, especially as they spearhead LLDC efforts in negotiating the outcome document of the upcoming Second UN Conference in Austria. “We count on Zambia’s leadership and assure you of our full support and cooperation,” said Lyonpo.

Lyonpo also thanked Under-Secretary General, Ambassador Gyan Chandra Acharya not only for his useful briefing on the implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action and the update on the preparations of the Conference in Austria but for his continued efforts in championing the cause of the group ever since he assumed his position.

The minister said that the 13th Annual Ministerial Meeting of the Group comes at a crucial time. He said, “At the Conference in Austria, which is just a month from now, we will adopt a new programme of action for LLDCs for the next ten years. Then there are the negotiations on the Post-2015 development agenda. We must seize these opportunities to adequately highlight the special needs and challenges of LLDCs.”

Lyonpo commended the choice of the theme for this meeting, “Forging Partnerships for Enhanced Trade Competitiveness and Capacity Building of LLDCs in 2015 and beyond”, which he said is both timely and appropriate. Building on this theme, he said the Ministerial Communiqué succinctly captures the issues and challenges of LLDCs and highlights the essential ingredients that should feature in the new programme of action.

He pointed out that the zero draft of the Outcome Document of the Vienna Conference has taken on board most, if not all of these elements, and provides a good template for a new programme of action for LLDCs for the next decade.

“In our view, this template not only seeks to maintain continued focus on the priority areas of the APOA, but also seeks to address broader issues of pursuing robust and sustained economic growth. Such an approach, we believe, is consistent with our experiences from the last decade of implementing the Almaty Programme of Action and the recommendations emerging from various reviews and consultations. We, therefore, remain fully supportive of the key priority areas that have been identified for the new programme of action,” said Lyonpo.

Lyonpo said that the theme for the meeting contained three critically important issues which must form an integral part of a holistic programme of action for landlocked developing countries: boosting trade competitiveness and capacity building underpinned by strengthened partnerships. These issues, in essence, capture the aspirations and expectations out of the second review conference.

On enhancing trade competitiveness, Lyonpo said it is extremely critical to enable landlocked developing countries to pursue sustainable and equitable economic growth and ensure the prosperity of thier peoples.

He said, “Enhancing trade competitiveness calls for building productive capacity, diversifying our economies, strengthening the private sector and improvement in trade related infrastructure – issues that are so critical to addressing the challenges of LLDCs.”

Lyonpo pointed out that this theme resonates well with the collective experiences, of all other LLDCs. “In working towards economic diversification, we are of the view that service sectors, especially such as promoting sustainable tourism and information and communication technology services hold great promise and potential,” added Lyonpo.

He said that in this connection, it was very important to develop efficient, modern and reliable infrastructure, including ICT and energy infrastructure. Weak and  underdeveloped infrastructure continued to pose a major challenge for LLDC.

“Recognizing its critical importance, we have adopted the development of strategic infrastructure as a key priority in our national plans and remain firm in our belief that this should form one of the main elements of the new programme of action as it was in the APOA,” said Lyonpo.

The minister said that speaking from experience, lack of capacity is a major issue constraining development efforts as it cuts across a whole range of areas, at the policy to actual implementation of various infrastructure projects. The new programme of action for LLDCs would fall short if it does not provide for adequate support for capacity building of Landlocked Developing countries. For instance, Bhutan is currently in the process of acceding to the WTO for which capacity building support would be of great benefit to Bhutan move forward, Lyonpo pointed out.

Lyonpo said they have rightly chosen “forging partnerships” as a binding theme on issues surrounding enhancing trade competiveness and building capacity. He said, “if there is one group of countries that need to forge strong partnerships, it is us, the group of Landlocked Developing Countries.”

He said they need to build partnership with a whole range of actors: with transit countries, development partners, international organizations and the private sector. And for some landlocked developing countries that are also least developed, partnerships remain indispensable for their economic growth as well as in addressing the specific challenges of being landlocked.

Strengthened partnerships at all levels must continue to be the lynchpin on which the other priority areas can be launched to bring about shared prosperity and benefits as we embark on a new programme of action said Lyonpo.

The minister said they are at a critical juncture, where a template for a new programme of action has been presented through the draft Outcome Document of the Second UN Conference of Landlocked Developing Countries. Informal consultations on the draft outcome document are underway with only few weeks at our disposal to finalize it.

“It is imperative that we stay together as a group and work collectively to retain the good elements contained in the draft outcome document that are beneficial for the LLDCs in the new programme of action,” said the minister.

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