United Nations Conference on Trade and Development – Definition

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United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Definition

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) is a permanent intergovernmental body that is responsible for the integration of developing countries into the world economy through development-friendly measures. UNCTAD was established in 1964 by the United Nations General Assembly and is a constituent of the UN Secretariat. UNCTAD’s headquarters are located in Geneva, Switzerland and employs around 500 staff members. Besides, the organization also has offices in New York and Addis Ababa.

A Little more on United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)

The primary goal of UNCTAD is to maximize the trade, investment and development opportunities of developing economies and support their efforts to integrate into the world economy on a fair footing. The organization seeks to achieve this goal by providing analysis, facilitating consensus-building, and offering technical assistance to developing economies in order to set them off on the path of inclusive and sustainable development.

UNCTAD delivers in four major areas:

  1. Transforming economies, while enhancing competitiveness. UNCTAD regularly reviews policies pertaining to investment, services, trade, and science, technology and innovation. The organization also assists developing economies in trade negotiations. UNCTAD leverages e-commerce and the digital economy in order to achieve sustainable growth. It also offers guidance pertaining to investments and strengthens local businesses by promoting and facilitating investments.
  2. Managing vulnerabilities and building resilience. UNCTAD assists nations in graduating from Least Developed Country Status. The Debt Management and Financial Analysis System (DMFAS) Programme helps developing economies improve their capabilities for effective debt management. UNCTAD provides valuable guidance and assistance to developing countries to lessen their dependence on exports of raw commodities. UNCTAD also provides Market Access, Rules of Origin and Geographical Indications for the Least Developed Countries.
  3. Nurturing economic efficiency and enhancing governance. UNCTAD has laid down certain policies and frameworks pertaining to competition and consumer protection. It facilitates the sharing of best practices within developing economies through initiatives  such as voluntary peer reviews of competition and consumer protection laws and policies. UNCTAD also facilitates business and trade in developing countries.
  4. Empowering people and assisting them in creating a better future. UNCTAD facilitates the mainstreaming of gender as a path to inclusive development.The organization assists small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in growing sustainably through the UNCTAD Entrepreneurial Development Program (Empretec). UNCTAD also partakes in various initiatives to strengthen knowledge and skills for sustainable and inclusive economic development.

Being a part of UNCTAD can help a country to:

  • Work out a recourse to tackle macro-level development challenges.
  • Integrate itself favorably into the international trading system.
  • Become a diversified economy in order to lessen dependence on commodities.
  • Regulate its exposure to financial volatility and debt.
  • Acquire a more development friendly outlook, thus attracting investment.
  • Adopt digital technologies.
  • Encourage entrepreneurship and innovation.
  • Assist local businesses in moving up value chains.
  • Accelerate the flow of goods across borders.
  • Safeguard the interests of consumers.
  • Restrict regulations that obstruct healthy competition.
  • Accommodate climate change and utilize natural resources more efficiently.

UNCTAD has 195 member nations. Like other UN bodies, UNCTAD measures development by using Sustainable Development Goals, as set out in Agenda 2030. UNCTAD has been collaborating with other major international institutions such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for the implementation of the ECOSOC Forum on Financing for Development follow-up (FfD Forum).Although UNCTAD primarily collaborates with governments, it also endeavors to forge partnerships with the private sector as well as civil society.

Source of Funds

The European Commission is the biggest contributor to funds to UNCTAD, followed by various United Nations system organizations. Besides, UNCTAD also sources funds from several other international organizations as well as donors from both the public and private sectors.

References for United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

Academic Research on United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, Gardner, R. N. (1968). International Organization, 22(1), 99-130. This paper highlights the various achievements of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), held in Geneva between March 23 and June 16, 1964. The UNCTAD saw participation of 2000 delegates from no less than 119 nations, and came to be recognized as a landmark event in the sphere of international organization.

GATT and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, Gardner, R. N. (1964). International Organization, 18(4), 685-704. The UN Development Decade is primarily concerned with developing an efficient way to transfer skills and resources to lesser developed economies via bilateral and multilateral channels. However, there exist several hurdles to formulating smooth trade relations between the United States and other economies. These hurdles include trade barriers and certain specific problems that affect trade with lesser developed economies.

The United Nations conference on trade and development, Taylor, I. (2003). New Political Economy, 8(3), 409-418. This paper evaluates the role played by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in enlisting the cooperation of developed economies that are member nations of the United Nations in formulating measures that will benefit the lesser developed economies. UNCTAD seeks to employ international bureaucracy and conference diplomacy in order to facilitate changes to the extant norms governing trade and development.

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, South, E., & Asia, S. E. (2007). This UNCTAD fact sheet provides an overview of foreign direct investment (FDI) involving China, based on information provided by the World Investment Report, 2000. The report includes data on inward as well as outward FDI flows and foreign direct investment stocks. It also provides an overview of the various mergers and acquisitions that took place during the selected years, as well as data pertaining to the number of parent companies and foreign affiliates for the latest available year.

GLOBAL MONITOR The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, Taylor, I. (2003). New Political Economy, 8(3), 409-418. The principal motivation behind establishing the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in 1964 was to channel international bureaucracy and conference diplomacy in such as way as to effect changes to the existing benchmarks that affect commerce and overall growth. UNCTAD also sought to persuade stronger economies to adopt measures for the betterment of the lesser developed economies.

… Investment Report 2005: Transnational Corporations and the Internationalization of R&D, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development United Nations, New …, Barnard, H., & Cantwell, J. (2007). The authors highlight the role played by UNCTAD’s annual World Investment Report (WIR) in providing essential information about global foreign direct investment (FDI) and other pertinent facets of globalization. The World Investment Report of 2005 focused both on FDI as well as the globalization of research and development. This paper publicizes two reviews penned by prominent experts in this field in order to better understand the R&D data assembled in WIR 2005.

… , FDI from Developing and Transition Economies: Implications for Development by United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). United Nations …, Khan, S. M., & Khan, Z. S. (2007). United Nations Publications, New York (2006). This paper highlights the growing importance as well as the increasing magnitude of international foreign direct investment (FDI) flows. UNCTAD’s World Investment Report of 2005 provides valuable information regarding the outcomes of FDI on the global economy as well as development initiatives in the developed, developing, and transitional economies. The authors propose that future editions of the WIR also include fresh ideas and experimentation ingrained in the new growth theory as well as modern interdisciplinary analysis.

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development; a case study in UN diplomacy, Hagras, K. M. (1965). This book examines the development of diplomacy both preceding and following World War II. It also summarizes the role played by international organizations in global issues. The author then seeks to determine the purpose behind the establishment of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in 1964 by scrutinizing the specific requirements of those economies on whose behalf the conference was organized..

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, Corporations, T. (1994). Geneva, United. UNCTAD’s World Investment Report of 2009 focuses on Transnational Corporations, Agricultural Production and Development. The report provides an amended table of the Kuwait Investment Authorities (KIA) and Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) data and issues data pertaining to the estimated gains and losses of Gulf funds.

Notes on the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, Balogh, T. (1964). Bulletin of the Oxford University Institute of Economics & Statistics, 26(1), 21-37. The formation of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in 1964 paved the way for the development of poorer economies through international trade. The author acknowledges the need to reduce the massive disparity that exists in the international distribution of income. This disparity has only been increasing over the years despite an increase in the volume of aid in terms of technical assistance as well as resources.

Toward a Reorganization of International Trade-United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, Kasdan, A. R. (1964). Rec. Ass’n B. City NY, 19, 525. This paper focuses on the role played by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in enlisting the support of both developed as well as developing economies in order to raise the standard of living in poorer nations. Besides loans, credits and grants, several non-financial procedures have been implemented to elevate the economic conditions in developing economies.

UNCTAD I The First United Nations Conference on Trade and Development Geneva 1964, Williams, G. (1987). In Third-World Political Organizations (pp. 1-24). Palgrave Macmillan, London. The Secretary-General of the UN, U Thant described the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) as one of the most important events since the formation of the United Nations. The Third World relied upon UNCTAD to pave the way for economic liberation from the rampant discrepancies between developed economies and poorer nations that were the norm in trade relations. The UNCTAD provided a legitimate platform for Third World economies to realize their economic goals and actively participate in future debate on economic growth. The author views UNCTAD as a document of demands and grievances of the Third World.

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