United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) was established in 1964. It was meant for the integrated treatment of trade and development and related issues in the areas of investment, finance, technology, enterprise development and sustainable development. There are 193 members.


  • UNCTAD functions as a forum for intergovernmental deliberations, supported by discussions with experts and exchanges of experience, aimed at consensus building.
  • It undertakes research, policy analysis and data collection for the debates of government representatives and experts.
  • It provides technical assistance tailored to the specific requirements of developing countries, with special attention to the needs of the least developed countries and of economies in transition. When appropriate, UNCTAD cooperates with other organizations and donor countries in the delivery of technical assistance.

Reports Published:

  • The Trade and Development Report
  • The Trade and Environment Review
  • The World Investment Report
  • The Economic Development in Africa Report
  • The Least Developed Countries Report
  • UNCTAD Statistics
  • The Information Economy Report
  • The Review of Maritime Transport
  • The International Accounting and Reporting Issues Annual Review

Important Notes:

  • UNCTAD is an organ of UN General Assembly.
  • UNCTAD Objective is to maximize the trade, investment and development opportunities of developing countries and assist them in their efforts to integrate into the world economy on an equitable basis.
  • UNCTAD grew from the view that existing institutions like GATT (now WTO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and World Bank were not properly organized to handle the particular problems of developing countries.

UNCTAD Conferences

The Conference ordinarily meets once in four years. The first conference took place in Geneva in 1964, second in New Delhi in 1968. The latest {14th} UNCTAD conference is presently underway at Nairobi Kenya {17-22 July 2016}.


One of the principal achievements of UNCTAD has been to conceive and implement the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP). It was argued in UNCTAD, that in order to promote exports of manufactured goods from developing countries, it would be necessary to offer special tariff concessions to such exports. Accepting this argument, 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. Since imports of such items from other developed countries are subject to the normal rates of duties, imports of the same items from developing countries would enjoy a competitive advantage.

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