United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and The Caribbean (UN ECLAC)


Mario Cimoli    

Officer in Charge of the International Trade and Integration Division

Tel: +56 2 210 2235

E-mail: Mario.Cimoli [at] cepal.org

Mario.Cimoli [at] cepal.org

The Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLA) –the Spanish acronym is CEPAL- was established by Economic and Social Council resolution 106(VI) of 25 February 1948 and began to function that same year. The scope of the Commission's work was later broadened to include the countries of the Caribbean, and by resolution 1984/67 of 27 July 1984, the Economic Council decided to change its name to Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC); the Spanish acronym, CEPAL, remains unchanged.

ECLAC, which is headquartered in Santiago, Chile, is one of the five regional commissions of the United Nations. It was founded with the purpose of contributing to the economic development of Latin America, coordinating actions directed towards this end, and reinforcing economic ties among countries and with other nations of the world. The promotion of the region's social development was later included among its primary objectives.

In June 1951, the Commission established the ECLAC sub-regional headquarters in Mexico City, which serves the needs of the Central American sub-region, and in December 1966, the ECLAC subregional headquarters for the Caribbean was founded in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. In addition, ECLAC maintains country offices in Buenos Aires, Brasilia, Montevideo and Bogotá, as well as a liaison office in Washington, D.C.

Mandate and mission

The secretariat of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC):

  1. Provides substantive secretariat services and documentation for the Commission and its subsidiary bodies;
  2. Undertakes studies, research and other support activities within the terms of reference of the Commission;
  3. Promotes economic and social development through regional and sub-regional cooperation and integration;
  4. Gathers, organizes, interprets and disseminates information and data relating to the economic and social development of the region;
  5. Provides advisory services to Governments at their request and plans, organizes and executes technical cooperation projects;
  6. Formulates and promotes development cooperation activities and projects of regional and sub-regional scope, commensurate with the needs and priorities of the region and acts as an executing agency for such projects;
  7. Organizes conferences and intergovernmental and expert group meetings and sponsors training workshops, symposia and seminars;
  8. Assists in bringing a regional perspective to global problems and forums and introduces global concerns at the regional and sub-regional levels; and
  9. Coordinates ECLAC activities with those of the major departments and offices at United Nations Headquarters, specialized agencies and intergovernmental organizations with a view to avoiding duplication and ensuring complementarity in the exchange of information.


The subprogramme related to the work of the International Trade and Integration Division will cover nine areas of work, namely:

  1. Adjustment of trade policy to the new challenges of the twenty-first century: innovation and technological progress, services, global and regional value chains and internationalization of enterprises, new public and private standards, environmental sustainability and links with new emerging issues such as security, labor markets, poverty and corporate social responsibility;
  2. Negotiation, implementation and administration of trade agreements at the bilateral, regional, plurilateral or multilateral level;
  3. Regional cooperation and integration in the new phase of global development: value chains, convergence of agreements, areas of cooperation, internationalization of companies and links to other developing countries and regions;
  4. South-South trade, investment and cooperation, including the role of Brazil, the Russian Federation, India and China (the so-called BRIC countries) and other emerging economies;
  5. Monitoring of developments in trade and regional integration in Asia and the rapprochement between the Latin American and Caribbean region and Asia;
  6. Promotion and diversification of exports: inter-agency coordination and public-private cooperation, institutional modernization, trade facilitation and Aid for Trade initiatives, and international best practices;
  7. The characteristics of socially inclusive trade, with emphasis on various national experiences and the proposal of complementary policies that strengthen the contribution of trade and integration to poverty reduction, fairer income distribution and the creation of good quality jobs;
  8. Establishment of public-private partnerships for export development and issues relating to corporate social responsibility; and
  9. Training activities to improve policies for the promotion of the foregoing objectives.

The subprogramme will respond to the needs of stakeholders by providing updated information, analyses and policy recommendations to policymakers in the countries of the region, private-sector institutions and other organizations at the local, subregional and regional levels. The subprogramme will continue to coordinate and cooperate with UNCTAD, WTO, ILO, the World Bank, OECD, SELA, IDB, OAS, the United Nations regional commissions, regional development banks, the secretariats of the various regional integration organizations and public, semi-public and private entities with responsibility for trade, integration and sustainable development.

Selected TCB programmes and initiatives in this guide

Global Advocacy
Policy-making and policy implementation assistance
Integrated database of trade disputes for Latin America and the Caribbean
Interactive Graphic System of International Trade Data (SIGCI)
Sustainable development
Successful projects

The Division has been active in a variety of areas related to the categories of this Trade Capacity Building Resource Guide:

  • Gender mainstreaming, employment and youth: The Division of International Trade and Integration’s programme of work is designed to include a gender perspective when undertaking economic and trade policy analysis and issuing recommendations. The Division has analyzed the economic and social impacts of trade agreements on women as well as developed an input-output based methodology that can provide sectoral data regarding export-related employment by gender.
  • Global advocacy: The Division of International Trade and Integration encourages countries to use trade as a tool for development, inclusive growth and increased global competitiveness. Additionally, the Division plays a key role in supporting the Sustainable Development Goals in the region that are related to trade and development.
  • Trade policy development: The Division of International Trade and Integration provides advice and guidance to countries and policy makers in designing and implementing trade and trade-related policies to strengthen the role and competiveness of Latin American and Caribbean countries in international trade and the global economy.
  • Legal and Regulatory Framework: The Division of International Trade and Integration maintains a database that provides governments, academics and civil society with substantive and procedural analysis regarding trade disputes filed in the World Trade Organization as well as regional integration schemes such as NAFTA, the Central American Common Market (CACM), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Andean Community (CAN) and MERCOSUR.
  • Trade Promotion Capacity Building: The Division of International Trade and Integration designs and delivers capacity building to countries in the region on matters related to trade promotion, trade facilitation, regional integration, trade policy, trade and sustainable development, and developing global and regional value chains.
  • Market and Trade Information: The Interactive Graphic System of International Trade Data (SIGCI) is a tool that aims to disseminate information on the evolution of Latin American and the Caribbean trade relations with the world in terms of composition and trade direction. This tool is available online and is updated annually.
  • Trade facilitation: The Division of International Trade and Integration covers a wide range of trade facilitation issues such as: advance rulings, independent appeal mechanisms, advanced publication and notification of new regulations, stakeholder consultation, import-export regulations, risk management, pre-arrival processing, post-clearance audit, authorized economic operators, expedited shipments, national trade facilitation committees, single windows, cooperation among government agencies and modernization of customs agencies. For the last two years, ECLAC has collaborated with the other UN Regional Commissions in Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, and Western Asia to conduct a Global Survey on Trade Facilitation and Paperless Trade to gather information on trade facilitation measures and strategies implemented at the national, bilateral and regional levels. In addition to the global survey, ECLAC has been providing technical assistance and capacity building to countries in the region on trade facilitation matters on an ongoing basis.
  • Ministries of trade, economy and production of various Latin American and Caribbean countries;
  • United Nations Regional Commissions in Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe, and Western Asia as well as regional development banks and the secretariats of various regional integration organizations;
  • Specialized agencies and related organizations of the United Nations such as the International Monetary Fund, the International Labor Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization, and the World Trade Organization;
  • Other international organizations such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development;
  • Government-related cooperation agencies and regional integration schemes;
  • Private sector institutions and other organizations at the local, subregional and regional levels; and
  • Semi-public and private entities with responsibility for trade, integration and sustainable development.