Statement by Yerzhan Ashikbayev, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan at the 13th Annual Meeting of Foreign Ministers of Landlocked Developing Countries
Sept 26. MFA
Mr. Chairman, Your Excellency Honorable Harry Kalaba,
Foreign Minister of Zambia,
Your Excellency Mr. Gyan Chandra Acharya,
Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for LDC,
LLDCs and SIDS
I am delighted to have the opportunity to address this Thirteenth Meeting of Foreign Ministers ahead of the Second UN Conference on LLDCs in Vienna. I would like to echo sentiments of others that have spoken before me – the past decade has been a period of significant economic and social progress.
The Almaty Programme of Action (APoA), first developed in 2003, has helped create new linkages and strengthen existing partnerships between landlocked developing countries, transit developing countries and development partners, including multilateral institutions. Since 2003 there has been significant accomplishments, but we must also recognize that the majority of our economies remain vulnerable to external shocks and other emerging challenges. We are also aware that we have not been able to reach most of the Millennium Development Goals, and our countries continue to be marginalized from the international trading system. The structural impediments associated to landlockedness remain a challenge.
The reality is that our economies show relatively high trade openness – but their absolute level of trade has yet to get close to its full potential. Infrastructure, trade barriers and insufficient technological capacities continue to hamper us, while a reliance on a narrow range of exports – often a limited number of commodities – presents a significant weakness. Economic diversification must, therefore, be an urgent priority to both resource-rich, and resource-scarce LLDCs.
As we consider a new programme of action for LLDCs, Kazakhstan would like to emphasize the following.
First, the priority areas identified in the Almaty Programme of Action can still serve as a useful framework for new goals and targets developed in line with our respective national development policies, strategies and priorities. In other words, the new Programme of Action needs to be mainstreamed at the national level to allow for appropriate actions to be taken individually and jointly by LLDCs and their development partners.
Second, as was the case with the APoA, the expected outcomes in each priority area can be enhanced through genuine partnerships based on an equitable sharing of the benefits between landlocked, transit developing countries and their development partners including partnerships between the public and private sectors.
Third, regional integration and bilateral cooperation will be as important in the coming decade as they were in the last. We must continue to exploit the potential of regional economic integration, including increasing intra-regional trade and intra-regional foreign direct investment and improving connectivity through transport, energy and ICT networks.
Fourth, special attention should be paid to the implementation process, with the view of providing addition and adequate support from partners as well as complementary innovative financing, including Public-Private Partnerships.
As the country furthest from any seaport, Kazakhstan understands the necessity of developing effective transit systems and transport infrastructure. They are critical if we are to participate and be competitive in international trade. And we have big ambitions in Kazakhstan. Our long-term development plan, Strategy 2050, seeks to make Kazakhstan one of the thirty most developed economies by 2050. Many challenges that we have identified and seek to address in our plan, echo the objectives of the APoA – mainly eliminating trade and transit barriers, and developing logistics infrastructure. These are our top priorities.
We have accordingly identified, established and developed five international transit corridors: the Northern, Southern, and Central corridors of the Trans-Asian railway line, the North-South corridor that combines rail and water transport linkages, and the Europe Caucasus Asia Transport Corridor (TRACECA). In addition, we also have four international aviation corridors.
As part of the 2010-2014 transport infrastructure development programme, 61 infrastructure development projects were planned, with a total budget of more than US$ 23 billion. This programme involved the construction of some 1,600 kilometers of new railway lines, the rebuilding and renovation of more than 20,000 kilometers of highways, the upgrading of airport infrastructure, and developing a national merchant fleet and marine ports. We have also undertaken soft infrastructure upgrades along transit corridors and major border crossing points.
I would like to reaffirm the commitment of the Government of Kazakhstan to the LLDCs. In all areas, we welcome the opportunity to engage and consult with international partners on our most pressing issues and common challenges. In this regard, on 14-16 July, Kazakhstan hosted a retreat for the New York-based Permanent Representatives from the LLDCs with the purpose of drafting the Outcome Document of the forthcoming Vienna Conference to be held in November this year. This exercise made a significant contribution to the process of charting the road map for the future.
Kazakhstan has been a consistent supporter of the UN Trust Fund for the LLDCs with the intention of continuing this commitment in the future too.
As some of you may be aware, in three years’ time, Kazakhstan will have the honour of hosting the Global Specialized Exhibition “Expo-2017” in Astana under the theme the “Future Energy”.
The Astana Expo will explore strategies, programmes and technologies aimed at developing sustainable energy, promoting energy security and efficiency and encouraging the use of renewable energy. We hope that many LLDCs will be able to participate in this Expo, to share their experience, showcase their solutions and to learn from others facing similar challenges. We will provide support to representatives of around 60 developing countries to take part in EXPO 2017.
The second intergovernmental preparatory committee meeting next month will be an important moment to progress and develop our new Programme of Action. We must seize the opportunity to build on the momentum generated by the APoA, and strive to achieve rapid, sustainable and inclusive development for all of our citizens.
I thank you for your attention.