United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

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The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) was put in place in 1964. It reports to the United Nations Economic and Social Council and the UN General Assembly and has its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. UNCTAD has 195 member states, as of May 2018.

UNCTAD helps in providing support to developing countries, so that they can acquire the advantages of a globalized economy more effectively and fairly. UNCTAD also aids in equipping the developing countries to face the downsides that economic integration may have. UNCTAD provides these countries with technical assistance, analysis and also facilitates consensus-building. All of these provisions act as a helping hand for the developing countries, helping them use investment, technology, finance and trade for sustainable and inclusive development.

UNCTAD compiles, processes, and validates data, which it collects from national and international sources. UNCTAD generates more than 150 indicators and statistical time series, which are necessary to analyze aspects such as population, labor force, economic trends, commodities, and international trade. The statistical work of UNCTAD is in accordance with the standard of the United Nations principles.

Objectives of UNCTAD

UNCTAD aims to assist developed countries, with importance given to those countries which are least developed, and countries with economies in transition to merge into the global economy, while attaining all the benefits they can. Furthermore, UNCTAD also attempts to aid the international community in promoting a global partnership for development, making the coherence in global economic policy making greater, and assuring that development gains are achieved by everyone via trade.

Regarding competition, UNCTAD’s objectives are analysis and improving the international bases of the introduction of competition law and policy, coordinating trade and competition policy, ensuring that the national norms of competition are in line with the set of equitable principles, (which are agreed upon multilaterally) and rules regarding the Control of Restrictive Business Practices which the UN conference has embraced.

Furthermore, UNCTAD also has the objective of preparing policies that concern all the aspects of development, such as transport, trade, aid, and technology. The conference gathers once in four years at its secretariat located in Geneva.

UNCTAD and Pakistan

Pakistan is a member of UNCTAD and has been active in playing an important role in making the mandate regarding integrated treatment of trade and interrelated point in issues in the areas of technology, finance, investment and sustainable development through policy analysis, technical assistance and policy advice. Pakistan also encourages UNCTAD to organize all means of implementation – human and financial resources, capacity building, and technology, including through technical assistance to help achieve full implementation at each level of the targets and multilateral commitments agreed upon in 2015.

A video statement made by the Foreign Minister of Pakistan to the Secretary-General of UNCTAD in 2021 said that Pakistan supported the work of UNCTAD on policy options, and also supported its increased engagement with international financial institutions in order to reshape the global economic orders to aid in advancing the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Pakistan also supported UNCTAD’s capacity to deliver on its own development mandate and commended its recommendations to reform the international debt architecture, which included establishing a Global Debt Authority.

The Foreign Minister in the same video statement also commended UNCTAD’S contribution to promoting the Financing for Development and encouraged UNCTAD to carry on with giving policy options that tackle illicit financial flows and promote fairer taxation and international trading system. The Foreign Minister of Pakistan in 2021 also praised UNCTAD’S annual Trade and Development Report, its technical assistance, and commended UNCTAD’S research and policy analysis and its work. The Foreign Minister also reaffirmed Pakistan’s full support and cooperation with UNCTAD.

On the 4th of October 2021, Ambassador Khalil Hashmi (Pakistan) at the 15th Ministerial Meeting of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development commended the support of UNCTAD regarding effective participation and integration of APG countries into the multilateral trading system, as well as its technical cooperation activities. However, the provision of concrete measures to empower UNCTAD to help it increase its support to developing countries on issues such as those relating to development, trade, finance and technology issues was also sought.

On the 5th of October 2021, at the 15th session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the Prime Minister of Pakistan raised issues, which were regarding the distribution of the COVID vaccine, debt relief, climate finance, and the illicit flow of money from poor and developing countries to richer countries, tax havens and haven destinations, and requested the Secretary-General of UNCTAD to raise awareness and help in solving these issues.

Previously, UNCTAD has been supportive of helping Pakistan, which can be seen in its support of the Afghanistan-Pakistan transit trade agreement in 2011. This agreement relates to the facilitation of transit of goods that Afghanistan exported and imported using the Pakistani port of Karachi. The agreement also allowed for more ports and carriers to be used, which increased the number of border crossing points. It also provided for Afghan exports to India and envisaged the use of Afghan land for trade between Central Asian countries and Pakistan.

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