FAO Conveys Support for Landlocked Developing Countries
Participating in the 12th Annual Meeting of Foreign Ministers of Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs), FAO LON Director, Ms Sharon Brennen-Haylock conveyed to the gathering that although globalization offers opportunities for growth and development in all parts of the world, the hopes and promises attached to rapid liberalization of trade and finance have not so far been fulfilled in the Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs). These countries are in fact becoming increasingly marginalized, especially in the area of agriculture.
LLDCs face many difficulties, both internal and external, in their efforts to achieve their objectives of poverty reduction through improving food security and increasing export earnings. Internal difficulties include low productivity, inflexible production and trade structures, low skill capacity, low life expectancy and educational attainments, poor infrastructure, and deficient institutional and policy frameworks.
Besides price volatility, agriculture in LLDCs is susceptible to the vagaries of weather which determine the level of harvest and, therefore, with each country's domestic supply often varying along with the weather, LLDCs can rapidly move from a surplus to a deficit situation which can have serious macro- and micro-economic consequences. In addition, their external debt remains large. Their inability to compete in world markets, as well as in their domestic markets, is also reflected in their rising food import bills.
The Almaty Programme of Action adopted in 2003 succeeded in the universal recognition of the special needs of landlocked developing countries, which has generated tangible actions by not only the transit countries and the landlocked developing countries themselves, but also by other partner countries, international and regional institutions. However, there is still a long way to go to ensure that progress in these areas is consolidated and creates a conducive atmosphere for rapid, inclusive and sustainable development.
2014 will hold a Review Conference of the Almaty Programme of Action, where FAO already sees a number of cross cutting areas with its work programme and revised Strategic Framework. Some of the conference’s objectives will include: “Harnessing international trade, trade facilitation and aid for trade”, where FAO is working with LLDCs to improve national capacities in formulating appropriate trade-related policies and to mainstream agriculture trade in development and poverty-reduction strategies, “Boosting the private sector and increasing Foreign Direct Investment”: where the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), under which the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (HLPE) was created, is now working on the principles for responsible agricultural investments (rai) in the context of food security, and “Promoting regional and south-south cooperation”, where programmes under South-South Cooperation are well known in FAO.
In addition to member states, the Secretary General and representatives of UN System Agencies, Civil Society and the Private Sector attended the 12th Annual Meeting.