Many landlocked countries around the world have been facing similar problems in their all round economic development as they don’t have access to the sea. The French Embassy in Nepal organized a night of ideas in Kathmandu to discuss the issue.
“The night of ideas has been organized for the first time in 2016 by the Institut Français, in charge of promoting French culture all over the world. French culture is about partnership, promotion of values, open debate,” said Yves Carmona, Ambassador of France to Nepal, opening the program.
With partnership between Institut Français, Nepal Economic Forum, Alliance Française de Katmandou and the French Embassy, discussions were held on diverse issues.
“It illustrates values: cosmopolitism, linguistic diversity, freedom. Cosmopolitism: on stage, there are two French, two Nepalis and one Indian, chosen for their expertise on the issue; linguistic diversity: the debate will take place in English in order to allow a wide participation. Freedom of expression is one of so many common points we have between Nepal and France,” said Ambassador Yves Carmona.
“I am very proud of having convinced all partners to put, for the first time, Nepal on the global map of the night of ideas for its second edition. The debate is podcasted and watched through internet all over the world. Nepal speaks before Europe and America, let's congratulate!
“I proposed the theme “economic development and landlocked countries because during my 40+ year’s career overseas, I served in 6 countries, including 3 landlocked Least Developed Countries: Rwanda, Lao PDR and now Nepal,” said Ambassador Yves Carmona.
“Being landlocked is definitely a hurdle these countries have in common on their road to development. But being landlocked is not only a handicap, since it allowed these countries to preserve their integrity and identity against various processes of invasion or acculturation. And some landlocked countries do very well – think of Luxemburg, Austria or Switzerland, among others,” said Ambassador Yves Carmona.
“Today’s challenge is to transform being landlocked in added value in a world increasingly shaped by trade, globalization and interaction,” said ambassador Yves Carmona.
“Isolation is certainly linked to geography, but isn’t it mainly a political issue? Think of Japan, an archipelago with historical significant naval capacity. It willingly isolated itself from the rest of the world during two and a half centuries, and that was a political decision. On the other way round, landlocked Luxemburg has been one of the 6 founders of the EC then EU and no one would think of it being isolated. So being landlocked is not a curse. And I believe tonight’s debate will carry enlightened analyses and potential solutions for Nepal to overcome being landlocked and find its own path to development,” said Ambassador Yves Carmona.
From the panel Dr. Swarnim Wagle questioned, “Is the problem being landlocked or policy-locked?” He emphasized on the need to focus on modern tradable services, which include not only tourism sector but also manufacturing of high value-low volume goods.
UN resident coordinator Valerie Julliand highlighted that 18 landlocked countries have a per capita GDP of less than USD1000. “Landlocked countries tend be trapped in a vicious circle; transportation costs are high, economic progress is slow and inequality is high.
The attendees included the Ambassadors of Germany, United Sates of America, Switzerland, Sri Lanka, senior officers from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Finance, researchers, students, and representatives of media.
Dr. Anasua Basu Ray Chaudhury stressed on the importance of the Bhutan Bangladesh India Nepal (BBIN) connectivity projects stating how such projects are starting to make positive progress in transforming landlocked areas into land-linked areas.
Pierre Jacquet emphasized that being landlocked is not being doomed: What matters is access to markets and the size of these markets.