General

About the land locked developing countries

What are the Landlocked Developing Countries?

Landlocked developing countries are developing countries that lack territorial access to the sea. They therefore face the double challenge of development and access to international markets.

What are the major constraints facing Landlocked Developing Countries?

Landlocked developing countries (LLDCs), as a group, are among the poorest countries in the world. Given their lack of direct access to seaborne trade, LLDCs find themselves on an inherently disadvantaged development path compared with countries with coastlines as deep-sea ports. Landlockedness often coincides with other factors such as remoteness from major markets and difficult topography, as well as tropical or desert ecology. In addition, poor infrastructure, inefficient logistics systems and weak institutions compound the adverse effects of geography, leading to high trade transaction costs. Such severe difficulties are amplified by the LLDCs’ dependence on the political stability, the infrastructure and the institutional quality of coastal transit countries. These challenges not only affect economic growth but have also major ramifications for social and environmental aspects of development.
In 18 landlocked developing countries the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita is below $1,000. The persistence of such low per capita incomes in landlocked developing countries has resulted in a vicious circle where transport infrastructure investment is not viable owing to too little demand for transport services and simultaneously less economic activity takes place because of inadequate infrastructure resulting in less domestic revenue available for investment into the social sectors required to attain the Millennium Development Goals.

The challenges of being landlocked have, over time, reduced the competitiveness of domestic economic operators in these countries, leading to an overall economic performance that has been consistently worse than their neighbors ’ when measured by GDP, foreign direct investment inflows and merchandise imports and exports. High transaction costs and inefficiencies constitute important barriers to trade and FDI and thus to economic growth and poverty reduction and they remain the main reasons behind the continued marginalization of LLDCs within the global economy.

Furthermore, the LLDCs’ economies are characterized by limited productive capacities and a non-diversified export structure – typically concentrated on few bulky primary agricultural and mining commodities – making them highly vulnerable to external shocks. Notwithstanding improved export performances, the LLDCs’ share of world trade in goods continues to hover below 1%.

Evidence shows that LLDCs continue to face greater difficulties than coastal countries in their efforts to profit from trade opportunities and harness global markets for economic development and growth. While widespread transit transport policy reforms have reduced border delays and inefficiencies, continued efforts are needed to make trade flows smoother and faster. In the period from 2005 to 2009, the average time taken by an LLDC to complete export formalities was remarkably reduced by nine days, or 16%. The time required to import dropped from 60 to 52 days during the same period, indicating a 13% reduction. However, importing into an LLDC typically takes at least a week longer than for its coastal neighbors and times can vary widely, especially in Africa and Central Asia. These two regions also continue to record the highest cost to import and export. In the Niger, for example, an exporter must spend 59 days and $3,545 to complete all formalities, from the time the sales contract is concluded until the goods are on the vessels. In Benin, an exporter faces half that time and a third of that cost.

Which countries are LLDCs?

There are 32 LLDCs, home to more than 400 million people. They are geographically distributed as follows:
Africa
16 countries: Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Malawi, Mali, Niger, Rwanda, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Sudan

Asia
10 countries: Afghanistan, Bhutan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Mongolia, Nepal, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan

Europe
4 countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Republic of Moldova, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

South America
2 countries: Bolivia, Paraguay

Contact itlldc

Email: thinktank@land-locked.org

Tel: +976-11-351971

Fax: +976 11 322127

visit ittlldc headquarters

UN House

United Nations Street-14

Sukhbaatar district

Ulaanbaatar 14201

Mongolia

Subscription for daily updates

Sign up to receive a daily brief on the news, and events relevant to the ITTLLDC and landlocked developing countries.

follow itlldc