United Nations Conference on Trade and Developmement

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
Acronyms Head UNCTAD Supachai Panitchpakdi

Status Established

Active 1964


Geneva, Switzerland



The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) was established in 1964 as a permanent intergovernmental body. It is the principal organ of the United Nations General Assembly dealing with trade, investment, and development issues. The organization's goals are to "maximize the trade, investment and development opportunities of developing countries and assist them in their efforts to into the world economy on an equitable basis." (from official website). The creation of the conference was based on concerns of developing countries over the international market, multi-national corporations, and great disparity between developed nations and developing nations. In the 1970s and 1980s, UNCTAD was closely associated with the idea of a New International Economic Order (NIEO).

Accepting this argument. UNCTAD has 194 member States and is headquartered in Geneva. The Conference ordinarily meets once in four years. finance and technology. the International Monetary Fund (IMF). the developed countries formulated the GSP Scheme under which manufacturers' exports and some agricultural goods from the developing countries enter duty-free or at reduced rates in the developed countries.The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development was established in 1964 in order to provide a forum where the developing countries could discuss the problems relating to their economic development. imports of the same items from developing countries would enjoy a competitive advantage. Since imports of such items from other developed countries are subject to the normal rates of duties. and World Bank were not properly organized to handle the particular problems of developing countries. fourth in Nairobi in 1976. aid. that in order to promote exports of manufactured goods from developing countries. the sixth in Belgrade in 1983. It was argued in UNCTAD. UNCTAD grew from the view that existing institutions like GATT (now replaced by the World Trade Organization. the third in Santiago in 1972. WTO). the fifth in Manila in 1979. The primary objective of the UNCTAD is to formulate policies relating to all aspects of development including trade. UNCTAD has 400 staff members and an bi-annual (2010–2011) regular budget of $138 million in core budget expenditures and $72 million in extra-budgetary technical assistance funds.] There is a list of non-governmental organizations participating in the activities of UNCTAD . Currently. It is also a member of the United Nations Development Group. it would be necessary to offer special tariff concessions to such exports. The first conference took place in Geneva in 1964. Switzerland. transport. second in New Delhi in 1968. the seventh in Geneva in 1987. One of the principal achievements of UNCTAD has been to conceive and implement the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP). the eighth in Cartagena in 1992 and the ninth at Johannesburg (South Africa)in 1996. The Conference has its permanent secretariat in Geneva.

In its early decades of operation. with intergovernmental bodies meeting between sessions and a permanent secretariat providing the necessary substantive and logistical support. growing concerns about the place of developing countries in international trade led many of these countries to call for the convening of a full-fledged conference specifically devoted to tackling these problems and identifying appropriate international actions. the conference was institutionalized to meet every four years. which strengthened the ability of developing countries to maintain national merchant fleets. the developing countries established the Group of 77 to voice their concerns. the Convention on a Code of Conduct for Liner Conferences. Agreements launched by UNCTAD during this time include . UNCTAD gained authoritative standing: as an intergovernmental forum for North-South dialogue and negotiations on issues of interest to developing countries. for its analytical research and policy advice on development issues. a number of International Commodities Agreements. including debates on the "New International Economic Order". whereby developed economies grant improved market access to exports from developing countries. became the organization's first Secretary-General. who had headed the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. (Today. This work later evolved into what is today known as "Trade and Competition Policies". Given the magnitude of the problems at stake and the need to address them.A Brief History of UNCTAD Foundation  In the early 1960s. the G77 has 131 members. which aimed at stabilizing the prices of export products crucial for developing countries. Phase 1: The 1960s and 1970s  o o    o o o o the Generalized System of Preferences (1968).) The prominent Argentinian economist Raúl Prebisch.   Simultaneously. the adoption of a Set of Multilaterally Agreed Equitable Principles and Rules for the Control of Restrictive Business Practices.  The first United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) was held in Geneva in 1964.

investment. and trade and environment. expanded and diversified its technical assistance. commodities. UNCTAD has further focused its analytical research on the linkages between trade. . competition law and policy. o o Foreign direct investment flows became a major component of globalization. following the merger into UNCTAD of the New York–based United Nations Centre on Transnational Corporations in 1993. technology and enterprise development. adopted a political declaration – "The Spirit of Bangkok" – as a strategy to address the development agenda in a globalizing world. UNCTAD was a key contributor to: the definition of the target of 0. put forward a "positive agenda" for developing countries in international trade negotiations. UNCTAD highlighted the need for a differentiated approach to the problems of developing countries. debt management.7% of gross domestic product (GDP) to be given as official development aid by developed o Phase 2: From the 1990s until today  o Key developments in the international context: The conclusion of the Uruguay Round of trade negotiations under the GATT resulted in the establishment of the World Trade Organizationin 1995.  o o In recent years. UNCTAD's analysis gave early warning concerning the risks and the destructive impact of financial crises on development. Against this background. UNCTAD emphasized the need for a more development-oriented "international financial architecture". held in Bangkok in February 2000. designed to assist developing countries in better understanding the complexity of the multilateral trade negotiations and in formulating their positions. o o A spectacular increase in international financial flows led to increasing financial instability and volatility. o Furthermore. which today covers a wide range of areas. including training trade negotiators and addressing trade-related issues. Consequently. investment policy reviews and the promotion of entrepreneurship. Its tenth conference. which led to a strengthening of the legal framework governing international trade. o o Expanded work on international investment issues.