United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) | IAS Target IAS Target

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) was established in 1964 as a permanent intergovernmental body by the United Nations General Assembly in 1964, and it reports to the UN General Assembly and United Nations Economic and Social Council. UNCTAD is the part of the United Nations Secretariat dealing with trade, investment, and development issues. The conference ordinarily meets once in four years. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development was set-up to provide a forum where the developing countries could discuss the problems relating to their economic development.

One of the principal achievements of UNCTAD (1964) has been to improve the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP). GSP scheme under which manufacturers' exports and import of 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. The organization grew from the view that existing institutions like GATT (now substituted by the World Trade Organization, WTO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and World Bank were not properly organized to handle the particular problems of developing countries. Later, in the 1970s and 1980s, UNCTAD was closely associated with the idea of a New International Economic Order (NIEO). The first conference took place in Geneva in 1964, second in New Delhi in 1968. The 14th UNCTAD conference (July 2016) took place in Nairobi Kenya.

Secretariat Geneva, Switzerland
Parent organization
  • United Nations General Assembly
  • United Nations Secretariat
Member states 195 member states


  • The primary objective of UNCTAD is to formulate policies relating to all aspects of development including trade, aid, transport, finance and technology.
  • Maximize the trade, development and investment opportunities of developing countries
  • support developing countries in their efforts to assimilate into the world economy on an equitable basis


UNCTAD produces a number of topical reports, including:
  • The Trade and Environment Review
  • The Economic Development in Africa Report
  • The Trade and Development Report
  • The International Accounting and Reporting Issues Annual Review
  • The Least Developed Countries Report
  • The World Investment Report
  • The Information Economy Report
  • The Review of Maritime Transport
  • UNCTAD Statistics
  • li>The Technology and Innovation Report