New York, 2 October 2008 Press release

Winkler: "Efforts toward greater participation of landlocked developing countries in world trade"

State Secretary Hans Winkler at a high-level ministerial conference on the promotion of landlocked developing countries

New York, 2 October 2008 - "Globalization entails both opportunities and challenges. Many developing countries, however, are confronted with particular difficulties in the process. Therefore, there is urgent need for coordinated national and international policies and measures that will actively help these countries" said State Secretary Hans Winkler in his address at the opening panel of a high-level ministerial conference on the promotion of landlocked developing countries in New York.

Winkler stressed that existing drawbacks for landlocked developing countries, such as transport costs or dependence on the infrastructure of other countries are further amplified by other factors such as rising fuel costs, greater demand for supply security, and enhanced environmental awareness. "It is therefore absolutely imperative that we create the necessary conditions for these countries to participate successfully in world trade. The basis for this must be a close coordination between the landlocked developing countries, the transit developing countries, and their development partners with a focus on transit infrastructure, know-how transfer, an increase in their production and trade-related capacities, and on trade", Winkler emphasized.

Austria has long been supporting various initiatives - both in a European framework and in cooperation with the partner countries - which also aim at promoting regional cooperation and at developing transport systems between these countries. Austria specifically supports the "EU- Africa Trust Fund on Infrastructure", which provides funds for the implementation of cross-border projects in the areas of energy, transport, telecommunications, and water. Moreover, Austrian Development Cooperation (OEZA) places a particular focus on the development of national transport infrastructure in its partner countries, e.g. by supporting investments in road and railway construction. "The majority of the priority countries of OEZA, such as Burkina Faso, Uganda, Ethiopia, Bhutan, and Moldova are landlocked developing countries. We support these with a large number of bilateral and multilateral projects, and within the framework of the United Nations", said the State Secretary.

Landlocked Developing Countries constitute a category recognized by the United Nations, which currently includes 31 poor countries that have no access to the sea, most which are situated in Africa and Asia. Despite their different geographical locations, all 31 countries present the following characteristics:  

  • lack of access to global markets
  • high transit and transport costs
  • several borders and countries need to be crossed for access to the outside world
  • large distances to international markets
  • dependence on other countries for transit or transport and trade routes

In 2003, the Almaty Programme of Action was adopted with the aim of promoting partnerships to address the specific problems of landlocked developing countries. A Midterm Review of the Programme is currently taking place in New York as part of the UN General Assembly.

Federal Ministry for
European and international Affairs
Mag. Gregor Kössler
Office of the State Secretary
Tel.: ++43 (0) 50 1150-3454