United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)was established in 1964. UNCTAD promotes a development-friendly integration of developing countries into the world economy. It has progressively evolved into an authoritative knowledge-based institution whose work helps shape current policy debates and thinking on development, with particular focus on ensuring that domestic policies and international actions are mutually supportive in bringing about sustainable development.

The organization works to fulfil this mandate by carrying out three key functions:

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

Source: UNCTAD

The scope and content of UNCTAD's work covers topics such as commodities, shipping and transport, technology, competition law, trade in goods and services, and Foreign Direct Investment. UNCTAD is most widely known for the Trade Development Report that is published annually, the World Investment Report and other publications.

UNCTAD's work related to trade facilitation

UNCTAD contributes to research and technical cooperation in trade facilitation. It manages the ASYCUDA programme that assists UNCTAD member states in reforming Customs clearance processes, including the implementation of the so-called Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA), which is a computerized Customs management system. The ASYCUDA Programme has operated since 1981 and is active in more than 90 countries across the globe. UNCTAD's Trade Facilitation Section of the Trade Logistics Branch provides technical assistance for developing countries to support implementation of trade facilitation reforms. It is one of the five so-called Annex D organizations that are observers to the WTO negotiations on trade facilitation. As an Annex D organization, UNCTAD has provided workshops and research to improve developing countries’ participation in the negotiations. UNCTAD also has an active role in consensus building and policy recommendation based on research and analysis, including the UNCTAD expert meetings on transport and trade facilitation, and relevant ad-hoc expert meetings.

UNCTAD has actively participated and supported the establishment of NTFBs in developing countries. In line with this long-standing commitment, in a joint effort lead by UNCTAD with the participation of ITC and UNECE a repository has been created containing case studies from countries that have set up NTFBs. http://unctad.org/en/DTL/TLB/Pages/TF/Committees/default.aspx
Building on its more than ten year of experience on eRegulations system, UNCTAD has also setup a Trade Portal (http://tradeportal.eregulations.org/ ) to help governments make rules and procedures fully transparent and facilitate business, trade and investment."