About North and Central Asia
All of these countries are economies in transition from centrally-planned to market-driven ones, as price controls were removed, state-owned enterprises privatized, two-tier banking introduced, legal frameworks as well as supervisory capacities strengthened and entrepreneurship promoted to develop small and medium enterprises. In light of these measures, several of these countries have joined the World Trade Organization (WTO), namely the Kyrgyzstan on 20 December 1998, Georgia on 14 June 2000, Armenia on 5 February 2003, Russian Federation on 22 August 2012, Tajikistan on 2 March 2013 and Kazakhstan on 30 November 2015 while Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan now have observer status.
With the exception of Georgia and the Russian Federation, these countries are also landlocked. Given the lack of territorial access to the sea, transport and trade agreements need to be forged with their transit neighbouring countries, in order to reduce direct and indirect costs and to reach regional as well as global markets for their exports. To tackle this challenge, the Vienna Programme of Action for Landlocked Developing Countries for the Decade 2014-2024 adopted at the Second United Nations Conference on Landlocked Developing Countries in November 2014 identified six priorities that needed to be addressed: (1) fundamental transit policy issues; (2) infrastructure development and maintenance; (3) international trade and trade facilitation; (4) regional integration and cooperation; (5) structural economic transformation; and (6) means of implementation.