The United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS) and the Republic of Botswana conducted, in close collaboration with World Trade Organization (WTO), a session on improving the connectivity of landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) last week. The session took place during the Aid for Trade Global Review 2022.
The online event was attended by LLDCs and transit countries representatives, development partners, development banks, United Nations agencies, other international and regional organisations, and private sector actors.
The discussions aimed to explore solutions to address the connectivity challenges of LLDCs and make transit more efficient. Indeed, during COVID-19 pandemic, the uncoordinated closing of borders and national travel restrictions exacerbated pre-existing challenges for LLDCs and increased costs.
Due to their geographical location, LLDCs lack direct access to seaports and rely on transit through their bordering countries for access. They therefore face many challenges with respect to connectivity, including inadequate transport infrastructure, multiple border crossings, complex administrative transit and border procedures.
IRU’s TIR Director Tatiana Rey-Bellet outlined the benefits of TIR in improving transit connectivity, facilitating cross-border trade and turning landlocked countries into land-linked countries. The recent implementation of TIR and digital TIR solutions in LLDCs of Central Asia is a successful example of the economic growth potential when transit runs under TIR.
Highlighting the relation between the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) and the TIR Convention, Tatiana Rey-Bellet commented: “The TIR system provides the necessary mechanisms, ensuring both security and facilitation of traffic in transit. The principle of mutual recognition under TIR eliminates the burden of filing a transit guarantee at the entry to each country. With TIR, transport does not need to stop at each border and the same guarantee applies for the whole journey. Moreover, identical information on the transit movement is provided in advance to all customs authorities along the itinerary. This way, TIR supports the implementation of the WTO’s TFA and contributes to boosting intra- and inter-regional trade.”
IRU stands ready to support LLDCs in accessing and implementing TIR to facilitate border crossing.