Forging the Vientiane Consensus - What Next for Least Developed & Landlocked Developing Countries?

Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary for UN ESCAP speaks at a panel during the "Final Regional Review of the Almaty Programme of Action" in Lao PDR.
UNESCAP/Wilasluk Aurtaveekul

H.E. Mr. Sommad Pholsena, Minister of Public Works and Transport,
Government of Lao PDR

Mr. Gyan Chandra Acharya, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States

Excellencies,
Distinguished Participants,
Ladies and Gentlemen

It is a great pleasure for me to address you again at the closing session of the ESCAP/OHRLLS/ ECE/Government of Lao PDR Final Regional Review of the Almaty Programme of Action.

This review was your platform for renewing your commitment in addressing development gaps and integrating your countries more closely with the region’s growth momentum. It also provided an opportunity to address the persistent, new and emerging challenges facing the Asia-Pacific LLDCs today. It also brought together your development partners, transit countries and private sector representatives in finding common approaches and solutions to your challenges.

I would like to congratulate you on the successful adoption of the Vientiane Consensus representing the outcome of the Regional Review which will, I am confident, shape the global review of the Almaty Programme of Action in 2014. I also hope that this document would also be an input into the ongoing discussion on the post-2015 development agenda representing, as it does, the voice of 14 LLDCs and their development partners.

Excellencies, Distinguished Participants, Ladies and Gentlemen,

To me it appears that the review has thrown up five key broad priorities for the global review and the debate about the post-2015 development agenda.

Firstly, it has highlighted the importance of focusing on job-creating and equitable growth, as a part of their inclusive and sustainable development strategy of LLDCs, through appropriate structural transformation of economies and by strengthening education and vocational training, nutrition and health, gender equality and women’s empowerment, and social protection.

Second, the LLDCs must seek to diversify their economies in favour of value-adding products to reduce their vulnerability to commodity prices shocks. They could also focus on development of services sectors like tourism, ICT services, energy production and transmission, education and health, finance and banking, that are not dependent on the access to sea, for creation of incomes, jobs and exports.

Third, LLDCs may focus on providing a stable macroeconomic, trade and investment regime to mobilize domestic as well as foreign private investments and public-private partnerships (PPP) for closing the infrastructure gaps and for building productive capacities.

Fourth, LLDCs should deepen regional economic integration at subregional, regional and broader levels. Regional economic integration has assumed greater salience in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. Regional economic integration would assist in LLDCs’ participation in the regional value chains and enable them to tap expanding markets in the neighbourhood for their products and services. Deeper regional networks also create mutual interdependencies with transit countries and other countries in the neighbourhood, which may help to reach out global markets through smoother transit links.

Finally and most critically, a successor of the Almaty Programme of Action and the post-2015 development agenda should make the international community to renew its commitment to continued international support to LLDCs in addressing their handicaps. This could cover facilitation of the WTO accession of LLDCs on easy and expedited terms, transit and transport facilitation by the neighbouring countries, enhanced and better quality flows of ODA, aid-for-trade and FDI, and capacity building support for productive and trade capacity development and climate change mitigation. Given the structural constraints they suffer from, they should also be offered preferential market access including duty-free-quota-free market access for LLDCs that are also LDCs by all developed countries and by developing countries that are in a position to do so.

In closing let me emphasize what I said in my opening statement that it is my conviction that with the support and cooperation of transit countries and international community at large, LLDCs of the region not only can realize their full development potential but can also play an important role as land bridges connecting different countries in the region through land transport corridors. I believe that ESCAP’s vision of an international integrated intermodal transport and logistics system in Asia, integrating the Asian Highway (AH) and Trans-Asian Railway (TAR) networks together with the network of dry ports, linking LLDCs to high-growth coastal areas in corridors of prosperity would be instrumental for realization of their development aspirations.

Excellencies, Distinguished Participants, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me assure you that the Vientiane Consensus will be placed at the sixty-ninth session of the Commission which will meet in Bangkok from 25 April to 1 May 2103. I am confident that the Commission will take due note of it and provide guidance in transmitting it as this region’s contribution to the global final review of the Almaty Programme of Action in 2014.

Let me once again thank His Excellency Dr. Thongloun Sisoulith, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Government of Lao PDR for your outstanding leadership in brining this final regional review to a successful conclusion. Allow me to extend my sincere appreciation to H.E. Mr. Sommad Pholsena, Minister of Public Works and Transport, Government of Lao PDR and his able team who have worked tirelessly in making this event possible. I also thank all the distinguished speakers for their very valuable contribution to the final regional review of the Almaty Programme of Action.

Last but not the least, please allow me express my deepest gratitude to our distinguished participants from the LLDCs, other member States, development partners, transit countries and private sector who travelled long distances to be in this important meeting and worked round the clock to make this review a great success.

I wish you all a safe journey back home.

Thank you