Ban: Be generous on landlocked developing countries
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has asked the international community to show generosity in helping the landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) of the world overcome their trade-hobbling isolation.

Ban urged the international community to extend the same support to LLDCs as it did by pledging significant funds to help poor states to achieve development goals last week.

"Today we are sounding alarm bells for the Almaty Programme of Action," he told a high-level Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly devoted to a mid-term review of the programme, a 2003 plan to compensate LLDCs for their geographical handicaps with improved market access and trade facilitation.

Although the 31 LLDCs of the world represent about 15 per cent of states, their share of world exports has remained well below one per cent, according to UN figures.

Ban noted that the "alarm bells" he sounded last week at the Assembly's High-Level Event on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the ambitious targets set by the UN Millennium Summit of 2000 to slash poverty, hunger, preventable illness, all by 2015, sparked an "unprecedented commitment" of as much as USD 16 billion.

"I hope for a similarly hope-inspiring response," he said. "Let us use the success of the High-Level Event on the MDGs as inspiration for this review."

It is vital that landlocked developing countries increase their volume of exports to meet the MDGs, yet the biggest obstacle to this is the very high cost of transport, in some cases exceeding 70 per cent of the export value, Ban told the opening session of the two-day meeting.