Landlocked countries open meeting on trade transit ahead of UN conference

Two landlocked South American countries and the neighbours who separate them from the sea opened a meeting in Paraguay today, the first of the regional sessions ahead of a United Nations conference on ways to facilitate trade and transit for the world’s 30 developing countries that have no access to the coast.During the two-day meeting in Asuncion, foreign ministers from Paraguay and Bolivia and the surrounding countries – Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru and Uruguay – will discuss how to reduce physical, legal and technical obstacles hampering trade and economic progress. The UN estimates that legal trade facilitation expenses eat up on average 14 per cent of the export earnings of landlocked countries.Paraguayan President Luis Angel Gonzalez Macchi opened the meeting, which is also being attended by UN Under-Secretary-General Anwarul K. Chowdhury, High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (OHRLLS); Jose Antonio Ocampo, Executive-Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean; and representatives from the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP).Other regional meetings will be held in Bangkok from 22 to 23 April and in Addis Ababa from 5 to 7 May, leading up to the International Ministerial Conference on Transit Transport Cooperation in Almaty, Kazakhstan, from 28 to 29 August.

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