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Landlocked countries in Central Asia and the Caucasus to explore coordinated action on transport connectivity for COVID-19 recovery using UN support

Lockdowns, border closures and restrictions to contain the COVID-19 pandemic have disproportionately impacted landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) in Central Asia and the Caucasus, which already face significant economic challenges due to the lack of territorial access to the sea and higher transport and transit costs. LLDCs pay more than double what coastal countries do to export their goods, and high trade costs erode competitiveness, constraining sustainable development opportunities.

Overcoming these challenges requires coordinated action by all countries and international organizations. International inland transport and connectivity on the Euro-Asian transport links are among the critical areas requiring coordinated approaches.

This will be the focus as Transport Ministers and high-level officials from Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan – members of the UN Special Programme for the Economies of Central Asia (SPECA) – and beyond, including Georgia and Turkey, come together for a Regional Dialogue on 29 September 2020.

The Dialogue is organized by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) in cooperation with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for the Asia and Pacific, the UN Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States and the United Nations Resident Coordinator Offices in SPECA countries, Georgia and Turkey. The Dialogue will also gather high-level representatives from Multilateral Financial Institutions and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

The overall objective of the Regional Dialogue is to facilitate an inclusive discussion and coordinate actions and plans on harmonization of international inland transport procedures to enhance connectivity in the SPECA region and beyond, especially in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Dialogue will emphasize benefits of the UN transport-related legal instruments – which include UN border-crossing facilitation Conventions administered by UNECE that can significantly reduce transport and trade costs -, the Vienna Programme of Action for LLDCs, the Ashgabat Initiative on reducing barriers to trade and transport in the SPECA region, as well as the UN framework for the immediate socio-economic response to COVID-19 pandemic.

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