Global Advocacy - UNCTAD

Global Advocacy - UNCTAD

Information dated: 2017

UNCTAD, through policy analysis, encourages trade policy makers to recognize the link between trade and development.

UNCTAD Flagship Reports:

  • The Trade and Development Report

The Trade and Development Report (TDR), launched in 1981, is issued every year for the annual session of the Trade and Development Board. The Report analyses current economic trends and major policy issues of international concern and makes suggestions for addressing these issues at various levels.

  • The World Investment Report

The World Investment Report focuses on trends in foreign direct investment (FDI) worldwide, at the regional and country levels and emerging measures to improve its contribution to development. Every issue of the Report include: (i) Analysis of the trends in FDI during the previous year, with special emphasis on the development implications; (ii) Ranking of the largest transnational corporations in the world; In-depth analysis of a selected topic related to FDI; (iii) Policy analysis and recommendations; and (iv) Statistical annex with data on FDI flows and stocks for 196 economies.

  • The Least Developed Countries Report (LDC)

UNCTAD´s Least Developed Countries Report provides a comprehensive and authoritative source of socio-economic analysis and data on the world´s most impoverished countries. The Report is intended for a broad readership of governments, policy makers, researchers and all those involved with LDCs´ development policies. Most Reports contains a statistical annex, which provides basic data on the LDCs.

  • The Economic Development in Africa Report

The Economic Development in Africa report analyses major aspects of Africa´s development problems and policy issues of interest to African countries. It makes policy recommendations for action by African countries themselves and by the international community to overcome the development challenges that the continent faces. The report has been published annually since 2000.

  • The Review of Maritime Transport

The Review of Maritime Transport is an UNCTAD flagship publication, published annually since 1968. Sea carries around 80 percent of the volume of international trade in goods, and the percentage is even higher for most developing countries. The Review of Maritime Transport provides an analysis of structural and cyclical changes affecting seaborne trade, ports, and shipping, as well as an extensive collection of statistical information.

  • The Information and Economy Report

The Information Economy Report is published annually. It analyses current trends and major international policy issues regarding information and communication technologies and their use for, and effect on, trade and development. The Report builds on UNCTAD´s E-Commerce and Development Report and redefines its scope, reflecting the increasing pervasiveness of the information economy and its key role in trade and development.

  • The Technology and Innovation Report

Issues of science, technology, and innovation remain endemic to the development and furthering our understanding on these issues is a core challenge for policy research. Deepening its commitment to this goal, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) launched a new flagship report series, the Technology, and Innovation Report in May 2010. The series seeks to address issues in science, technology, and innovation that are topical and important for developing countries in a comprehensive way with an emphasis on policy relevant analysis and conclusions.

  • The Commodities and Development Report

The UNCTAD Commodities and Development Report series was started in 2012/2013. It provides in-depth analysis of topics of particular interest to commodity-dependent developing countries and presents policy proposals.

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UNCTAD evidence based analysis

UNCTAD believe that good policy drives progress. By providing evidence-based policy analysis, UNCTAD help countries to improve economic, social and environmental outcomes.

In addition to the Flagship reports, UNCTAD research provides authoritative data and analysis on trade, investment, finance, and technology. It offers solutions to the major challenges facing developing countries, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable nations. Beyond tailored analysis and policy recommendations, UNCTAD research is also generated global standards that govern responsible sovereign lending and borrowing, investment, entrepreneurship, competition and consumer protection and trade rules.

Below are main examples of UNCTAD evidence based analysis, related initiatives and programmes:

  • Investment Policy Reviews (IPRs)

IPRs assess the investment policies and strategies of developing countries and economies in transition to help them attract higher levels of FDI while ensuring greater development benefits. All reviews are conducted using UNCTAD’s Investment Policy Framework for Sustainable Development, which ensures that all recommendations are in line with sustainable development principles. Among the 40 beneficiary countries, many have seen improvements to their investment climate as well as increased and less volatile FDI inflows.

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  • Services Policy Reviews

UNCTAD develop Services Policy Reviews to systematically analyze the economic, regulatory and institutional frameworks that impact on the services sector of a given country. Services Policy Reviews provide recommendations to policymakers to improve policies as well as regulatory and institutional frameworks and to identify trade policy options that advance national and sectoral development objectives.

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  • Trade Policy Framework Reviews

UNCTAD’s Trade Policy Framework Reviews help countries in a systematic, comprehensive and strategic manner. The Reviews focus on identifying key sectors for diversification with the potential to bring higher economic value, setting the right trade policies to back up those development priorities and establishing a trade policy framework to ensure effective implementation of such strategies. The aim is for Trade Policy Framework Reviews to contribute to the (re)formulation and implementation of national trade policy regimes according a country’s own needs. The Reviews, via activities and workshops, provide the tools to policymakers in developing countries and transition economies that enable them to set their own priorities make impact assessments of different policy options and devise the best actions, including at the sectoral level.

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  • Science, Technology and Innovation Policy Reviews

UNCTAD develop the Science, Technology and Innovation Policy Reviews to assist developing countries in building those capacities at the national level. The starting point for the Reviews is that science, technology and innovation are essential to the policies that sustain the national innovation systems which can promote development. The long-term aim of the Reviews is for national science, technology and innovation plans and programmes to support a country’s broader national sustainable development agenda.

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  • ICT Policy Reviews (ICTPRs)

The UNCTAD Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Policy Reviews (ICTPR) serve to help developing countries adjust their ICT policies and implementation mechanisms aimed at developing the information and knowledge-based economy. The reviews assess the implementation of ICT strategies, policies and programmes geared towards the development of the information economy. They provide action-oriented recommendations for policy improvements. The reviews are presented within UNCTAD’s inter-governmental framework. Governments can benefit from peer reviews and sharing of best practices.

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  • Voluntary Peer Review of Competition Law and Policy

UNCTAD Voluntary Peer Reviews on Competition Law and Policy are undertaken by competition policy experts and serve as a basis for peer review examination during the annual session of the Intergovernmental Group of Experts (IGE).

The peer review process provides a unique opportunity to examine and draw lessons from experiences of, and challenges faced by, countries in the implementation of competition policies. The reports produced during the process regarding the state of competition law and enforcement in reviewed countries are impartial and rigorous, and are undertaken by competition policy experts from both developed and developing countries who have practical experience in implementing competition law. The peer review process is interactive and combines the exchange of experiences with recommendations for possible improvements either in the formulation of the competition law or in its enforcement. Further, it provides interested developing countries with technical assistance in case they are willing to implement the peer review recommendations.

UNCTAD´s experience working with competition authorities in developing countries and its unique development perspective guarantee that the UNCTAD Voluntary Peer Reviews are focused on the development dimension of competition policies.

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  • The Creative Economy Report

The first UN policy-oriented report on the world’s creative economy was launched in April 2008. The Creative Economy Report is a multi-agency comprehensive study intended to facilitate a better understanding of the key issues underlying the emerging creative economy.

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  • Trade and Environment Review (TER)

The objective of the Trade and Environment Review is to enhance understanding of and promote dialogue on the development dimension of key trade and environment issues.

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UNCTAD evidence based analysis - initiatives:

  • Statistics - UNCTAD Stat

Statistics is an inherent part of UNCTAD. Being the United Nations’ focal point for the integrated treatment of trade and development and the interrelated issues in the areas of finance, technology, investment and sustainable development, UNCTAD compiles, validates and processes a wide range of data collected from national and international sources.

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  • UNCTAD's technical contributions to the G-20 processes on capital flows, global imbalances, employment and the financialization of commodity markets

Over the years, UNCTAD has become a recognized contributor to the G-20 process and has been of strategic significance to developing and developed countries alike as the United Nations Secretariat provides a necessary second opinion on global issues alongside those produced by the International Monetary Fund and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. In addition, UNCTAD's contributions to the G-20 aims to highlight the issues of interdependence and the need for systemic coherence in international monetary, financial and trade affairs, all of which are of vital interest to all members of the United Nations.

UNCTAD has participated as an observer in several meetings of the G-20 Framework Working Group on Strong, Sustainable and Balanced Growth and has contributed technical papers on global imbalances and growth prospects, the Chinese processing trade, global financial markets and exchange rate and capital flows management issues, employment and income policies, and spillover effects of macroeconomic policies in developing countries to the rest of the world.

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  • Debt and Development Finance

UNCTAD began working on debt issues during the 1970s. As the debt situation of developing countries has evolved over the following three decades, DDFB has provided up-to-date analysis of the most important developments and emerging issues in international debt, and adapted its technical assistance to the changing needs of developing countries.

​​​​​​​​On the issue of sovereign debt, UNCTAD is developing a site which objective is to provide a resource center for issues relating to sovereign debt for policy makers, debt managers, researchers, members of civil society and other stakeholders.

The site will contain information on UNCTAD's work at the national and international level in addition to links to sources of data, news, and opinions relating to sovereign debt.

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  • The World Investment Forum

UNCTAD World Investment Forum is a high-level, multi-stakeholder event designed to facilitate dialogue and action on the world’s key and emerging investment-related challenges. The forum shapes the future agenda for policymaking on investment for development and serves as a launch pad for major international initiatives in this field. It is recognized by governments and business leaders as one of the most important events for the international investment community, providing an opportunity and platform to interact with global leaders, senior policymakers, CEOs, investors, sovereign wealth fund executives, parliamentarians, capital market executives, investment treaty negotiators, investment promotion agencies, academia, and civil society representatives from countries around the world.

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For more information on UNCTAD overall Policy Analysis: