Building capacity to help Africa trade better

WCO leads discussions on freedom of transit for landlocked countries


WCO leads discussions on freedom of transit for landlocked countries

WCO leads discussions on freedom of transit for landlocked countries
Photo credit: IRU

The economic developments of many countries that are ‘locked’ by lands are often hindered by the lack of access to the sea. Even if their industrial or agricultural products are attractive and affordable for their domestic consumers, they will eventually lose their competitiveness after long journeys to global markets.

The World Customs Organization (WCO) is fully aware of these challenges and believes that the key to unlocking the potential of landlocked countries is to adopt an efficient transit regime. In this regard, the WCO will organize, on 10 and 11 July 2017, its first Global Transit Conference with the aim of leading the discussions on transforming Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) into Land-linked countries.

In 2014, the average cost to export one container from an LLDC was US$ 3,444 and US$ 4,344 to import. Comparatively, transit countries recorded much lower average costs with only US$ 1,301 to export and US$ 1,559 to import a container[1]. One of main factors contributing to an increase in the transport cost is cumbersome transit procedures. Customs transit operation tends to be very complex and complicated because it inevitably involves a wide range of stakeholders. The transit procedures for every country have not been fully harmonized due mainly to the lack of strong international standards on transit. There is an urgent need to simplify current transit operations, eliminate unnecessary border requirements and harmonize different transit systems to support international trade of LLDCs. 

Efficient transit regimes may radically change the landscape of international trade. Nowadays, with the constant need to fuel the fast-growing economies of Asia, goods are being increasingly transported from Europe to Asia by railways or roads. Even though the goods crossed several border points, transit operations by railways or roads are relatively quick as compared to major transportation routes such as sea transport. In Africa, transit corridors have stimulated the growth of regional economy and accelerated economic integration. In the era of globalization, Customs transit has become a common transportation mode to connect different regions and countries.

WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya emphasized that “the key to unlock the potential of LLDCs is the implementation of international standards for efficient transit regimes, thus boosting international and regional trade for all countries.” He added that “the WCO Transit Guidelines, consisting of 150 guiding principles for efficient transit regimes, will be launched during this event. A wide range of subjects will be discussed, such as bridging Asia and Europe, accelerating regional economic development in Africa, American and other regions, and overcoming challenges of landlocked countries.”

This Conference will be a unique platform for Customs administrations, governments, international organizations and the private sector to exchange views and experiences regarding efficient and effective transit regimes.

Please visit the Global Transit Conference event’s webpage for the latest information about the registration, agenda, speakers and other issues.

[1] Landlocked Developing Countries: Fact Sheet 2017, UNOHRLLS.

Reference document from the WCO (2014): Transit Handbook To Establish Effective Transit Schemes for LLDCs (PDF)


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