The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) was established in 1964 as a permanent intergovernmental body. It is the principal organ of the United Nations General Assembly dealing with trade, investment, and development issues.
The organization's goals are to "maximize the trade, investment and development opportunities of developing countries and assist them in their efforts to integrate into the world economy on an equitable basis." (from official website). The creation of the conference was based on concerns of developing countries over the international market, multi-national corporations, and great disparity between developed nations and developing nations.
In the 1970s and 1980s, UNCTAD was closely associated with the idea of a New International Economic Order (NIEO).
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development was established in 1964 in order to provide a forum where the developing countries could discuss the problems relating to their economic development. UNCTAD grew from the view that existing institutions like GATT (now replaced by the WTO), the IMF , and World Bank were not properly organized to handle the particular problems of developing countries. UNCTAD has 193 members.
The primary objective of the UNCTAD is to formulate policies relating to all aspects of development including trade, aid, transport, finance and technology. The Conference ordinarily meets once in four years. The first conference took place in Geneva in 1964, second in New Delhi in 1968, the third in Santiago in 1972, fourth in Nairobi in 1976, the fifth in Manila in 1979, the sixth in Belgrade in 1983, the seventh in Geneva in 1987, the eighth in Cartagena(Colombia) in 1992 and the ninth at Johannesburg (South Africa)in 1996. The Conference has its permanent secretariat in Geneva.
One of the principal achievements of UNCTAD has been to conceive and implement the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP). It was argued in UNCTAD, that in order to promote exports of manufactured goods from developing countries, it would be necessary to offer special tariff concessions to such exports. Accepting this argument, the developed countries formulated the GSP Scheme under which manufacturers' exports and some agricultural goods from the developing countries enter duty-free or at reduced rates in the developed countries. Since imports of such items from other developed countries are subject to the normal rates of duties, imports of the same items from developing countries would enjoy a competitive advantage.
Currently, UNCTAD has 193 member States and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. UNCTAD has 400 staff members and an annual regular budget of approximately US$50 million and US$25 million of extra budgetary technical assistance funds.
The inter-governmental work is done at 5 levels of meetings: 
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