On 30 December 1964, the first session of the Conference on trade and development– UNCTAD — was held in Geneva (Switzerland) . Since then, for nearly half a century, UNCTAD is the principal organ of the UN General Assembly in the field of trade and development.
Fourteen sessions of UNCTAD have been held since the inception of the Conference. The Conference meets at least once every four years. The latest session on the topic “From decision to action: Moving towards an inclusive and equitable global economic environment for trade and development” was held in 2016 in Nairobi (Kenya). The establishment of UNCTAD in 1964 initiated the restructuring of international economic relations and closer economic cooperation between the developed and developing countries. Key political and guiding documents Nairobi Azimio and Nairobi Maafikiano adopted at the last session of the Conference in Nairobi confirmed the ever-increasing desire of developing countries to participate fully in international trade and economic relations.
Today the main Conference’s goal is to promote integration of developing countries and countries with economies in transition into the global economy and its development through trade and investments. To this end, continuous analysis is made in accordance with the specific needs of member states. UNCTAD membership provides with the opportunity to benefit from seminars, courses, thematic projects of technical assistance.
The Conference activities are embodied in three basic forms: intergovernmental dialogue on urgent issues on the international economic agenda, analytical work and technical cooperation. UNCTAD does not work on regulatory arrangements, mandatory for all members of the organization. Its activities are advisory by nature.
UNCTAD consists of 193 states. Belarus joined the organization in 1964. The BSSR was one of the initiators of the convocation of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, and since foundation of the organization it has been actively involved in the activities of its various bodies.
Membership in UNCTAD is one of the priority areas for Belarus in cooperation with international financial and economic institutions.
The visit of Dr. Supachai Panichpakdi, Secretary-General of UNCTAD, to the Republic of Belarus on 15 to 17 July 2007 played an important role for the development of cooperation with UNCTAD.
Two technical assistance projects of UNCTAD supported by the UNDP funds were implemented through 2007 – 2009: Investment Policy Review of Belarus and Support to the WTO Accession of Belarus. Conduct of the Investment Policy Review of Belarus and its presentation in April 2010 at UNCTAD proved to be a real contribution to the cause of attracting the attention of the international community and investors to the investment opportunities of our country. On 27 July 2010, the Government of Belarus and UNCTAD signed the Memorandum of Understanding on the Priority Areas of Cooperation in the Field of International Trade, Investment and Development. The memorandum guarantees assistance from UNCTAD on the issues of attracting investments to Belarus and technical assistance to Belarus' accession to the WTO.
Belarus cooperates with UNCTAD in the academic field as well. The UNCTAD Virtual Institute – International Education and Research Network on Trade and Development – unites 31 largest universities of the world. Therefore, great attention is paid to participation in the project “Virtual Institute” in 2007, of the Belarusian State Economic University. Jointly with UNCTAD, teachers and students of Belarusian State Economic University hold training seminars, lectures, discussion of problems of the world economy. The library of the University is regularly replenished with up-to-date UNCTAD materials. In 2008, the Center for International Studies of the Belarusian State University was included in the global network of UNCTAD-launched think tanks on development issues.
The Republic of Belarus aims to join the World Trade Organization and attract investments into the Belarusian economy. In connection with that, the Republic of Belarus has repeatedly held UNCTAD’s regional seminars. The main topics of these seminars were the agricultural aspect of the negotiations on Belarus' accession to the WTO, international investment agreements, settlement of investment disputes, reform of the international investment regime.
Another area of UNCTAD activities in-demand for Belarus is analytical work on the issues of international trade and interrelated economic topics in the interest of development. UNCTAD;s unique database and analytical studies as well as orientation towards exchange of national experiences provide the Republic of Belarus with the opportunity to benefit from most advanced international solutions. Two flagship annual analytical reports of UNCTAD are of great interest to Belarus’ expert community: Trade and Development Report, World Investment Report.