Meanings of UNCTAD

By | April 16, 2022

Short for United Nations Conference on Trade and Development according to abbreviationfinder, UNCTAD promotes the integration of developing countries into the world economy within a framework conducive to development. The organization has gradually evolved into a knowledge-based authority whose work is intended to guide current policy debates and development thinking, in particular by ensuring that national policies and international action complement each other. mutually to achieve sustainable development.

To fulfill this mandate, the organization performs three key functions:

  • It acts as a forum for intergovernmental deliberations, receiving input from expert consultations as well as various exchanges of experience, and aiming at consensus building.
  • It conducts research, analyzes policies, and collects data for discussions among experts and government representatives.
  • It offers technical assistance tailored to the specific needs of developing countries, paying particular attention to the needs of least developed countries and countries with economies in transition. When necessary, UNCTAD cooperates with other organizations and donor countries in providing technical assistance.

Main activities

Trade and commodities

  • The “Positive Agenda Initiative” and the “Business Diplomacy Program”:help developing countries to participate more effectively in multilateral trade negotiations.
  • Diversification and development of commodities:promotes the diversification of production and trade structures. It helps governments formulate and implement diversification policies and encourages companies to adapt their business strategies and products to the international trading system.
  • Competition and consumer policies:assists in strengthening the capacity to formulate competition and consumer defense laws and policies in developing countries. Regularly publishes updates of model competition laws.
  • Trade Information and Analysis System (TRAINS):Comprehensive computerized information system using UNCTAD’s trade control measures database, for use by researchers, negotiators, legislators, exporters and importers. The CD-ROM version covers 119 countries.

Investment and business development

  • International Investment and Technology Agreements:help developing countries to participate more actively in the elaboration of international investment rules at the bilateral, regional and multilateral levels. It includes capacity building seminars, regional symposiums and preparation of documents.
  • Investment Policy Analysis:Aimed at familiarizing governments and the private sector with the investment environment and policies of certain countries such as Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Mauritius, Peru, Uganda and Ubezkistan.
  • Investment standards and capacity building activities for LDCs:To date, five countries have been included in this work – Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Mali, Mozambique and Uganda.
  • EMPRETEC: promotes entrepreneurship and the development of small and medium-sized companies in 20 member countries. An information network provides entrepreneurs with access to business databases.

Macroeconomic policies, debt financing and development

  • Policy formulation and research papers for UNCTAD and UN General Assembly meetings on topics such as global economic interdependence, the international financial and monetary system, and macroeconomic and development policy challenges.
  • Technical and advisory support:provides support to the intergovernmental group of developing countries (G-24) in their negotiations with the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and donor countries, including the Paris Creditors Club.
  • DMFAS Program:a computerized financial analysis and debt management system designed to help countries manage their external debt. It started in 1982 and now installed in 52 countries.

Transport, customs and information technology

  • ASYCUDA:integrated customs system that speeds up customs clearance systems and helps governments reform and modernize their customs management and systems. The latest version also makes it easier to introduce the use of e-business. Installed in more than 80 countries, it has become an internationally accepted model for customs automation.
  • ACIS:computerized cargo tracking system installed in 20 developing countries in Africa and Asia.
  • Global Central Trade System (GTPNet):150 centers around the world provide trade agents with trade-related information and services and assist them in introducing the use of e-business.
  • TRAINFORTRADE:builds training networks and organizes training in all areas of international trade to enable developing countries to increase their competitiveness. Currently, it is developing distance learning programs focusing on LDCs.

Relationship with other organisms

In carrying out its functions, the secretariat collaborates with the governments of the member states and interacts with various organizations of the United Nations system and with the regional commissions, as well as with government institutions, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, including trade associations and industry, and with research institutes and universities around the world.

Those organizations are as follows.

World Trade Organization (WTO)

UNCTAD and the WTO have joined forces to try to improve the functioning of the multilateral trading system. In April 2003, both organizations signed a Memorandum of Understanding establishing their collaboration and consultation regarding technical assistance activities, as well as conducting joint studies on selected issues. UNCTAD and the WTO have frequent dealings, with the same government representatives often attending the intergovernmental processes of both organizations.

International Trade Center (ITC)

The International Trade Center is co-sponsored by UNCTAD and the WTO and deals with the operational and business aspects of trade development, particularly trade promotion. Unlike UNCTAD’s technical assistance, which is primarily intended for governments, ITC’s technical assistance focuses primarily on helping businesses in developing countries. UNCTAD and the WTO are represented in the Joint Consultative Group that oversees the work of the ITC, and UNCTAD has a number of joint technical assistance activities with this body.

United Nations regional commissions and United Nations Development Program (UNDP)

UNCTAD collaborates with these international entities on specific projects, whether in relation to research projects, joint workshops and seminars, or technical assistance. Since UNCTAD does not have field representatives, UNDP country offices are also used to support UNCTAD activities in various countries.

Bretton Woods Institutions (International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank)

The World Bank and UNCTAD collaborate in the implementation of some technical assistance and capacity-building programmes. The UNCTAD secretariat, through the DMFAS debt management programme, also actively participates in the Inter-Agency Task Force on Financial Statistics, which is chaired by the IMF. The three agencies also collaborate in the organization of seminars. UNCTAD attends the biannual meetings of the IMF and the World Bank, and both institutions participate in UNCTAD intergovernmental meetings.

Other intergovernmental bodies

In addition to the United Nations system organizations, a total of 111 other intergovernmental bodies have been recognized as observers to the UNCTAD Trade and Development Board.


Trade and Development Report (TDR)

This UNCTAD report analyzes current economic trends and major policy issues of international concern, and makes suggestions for dealing with these issues at various levels.

World Investment Report (WIR)

The report focuses on trends in foreign direct investment (FDI) around the world, as well as across regions and countries; It also deals with the measures that are beginning to be adopted to improve the contribution of this type of investment to development.

Report on economic development in Africa

The Economic Development in Africa series examines some aspects of Africa ‘s development problems and the main policy issues facing African countries.

Report on the least developed countries (LDCs)

UNCTAD’s Least Developed Countries Report is the most comprehensive and authoritative source of socio-economic analysis and data on the world’s poorest nations. Each Report includes a statistical annex with basic data on LDCs.

Development and Globalization: Facts and Figures (GDFF)

Development and Globalization: Facts and Figures is a concise and documented publication that first appeared in 2004 on the occasion of the São Paulo Conference and has been very successful. The next edition is planned for 2006.(only in English).

UNCTAD Statistical Manual

The UNCTAD Handbook of Statistics 2009, print version and DVD, is a comprehensive collection of statistics useful for analyzing various international trade and development issues.

Information Economy Report (IER) and E-commerce and Development Report (ECDR)

The Information Economy Report, which replaces the Electronic Commerce and Development Report that UNCTAD has been publishing annually since 2000, reviews recent developments, trends and developments in the field of information technologies. information and communications technology (ICT) and points out the main implications for the economic and social prospects of developing countries.

Maritime Transport Report (ITM)

The Maritime Transport Report (ITM) studies maritime transport trends and analyses, in a comparative way, the situation of the different geographical regions and the different countries. The 2005 edition has a special chapter on Latin America and the Caribbean.