Multi-Lateral Summaries > United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UNECLAC)

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 the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC); the Spanish acronym, CEPAL, remains unchanged.

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 subregional 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 programmes of technical cooperation;
  6. Formulates and promotes development cooperation activities and projects of regional and subregional 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 subregional levels;
  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 coherence in the exchange of information.

TCB-related programme

At present, the main objectives of the Division of International Trade and Integration of ECLAC, as stated in its work programme, are to strengthen linkages between Latin American and Caribbean countries and the global economy, and regional cooperation and integration schemes at subregional, regional and hemispheric levels. These objectives will be attained through increased awareness in the countries of the region of the implications and impact of the adoption of conventional and new trade rules and disciplines, and also by strengthened understanding and analytical knowledge of Member State stakeholders of ways of improving their linkages with the global economy in the context of the parallel advancement of globalization and open regionalism in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The work of the Division is organized around the following main areas:

  • Analysis of global trends in the world economy and in Latin American and Caribbean trade policies;
  • The rules governing international trade, integration trends and national trade policies;
  • Issues relating to specific markets of interest to the region.

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

  • Global advocacy: the Division is mainly concerned with the MDGs and mainstreaming trade-related issues.
  • Trade policy development: the Division is deeply involved in trade policy and country studies, trade agreements, and trade diplomacy.
  • The legal and regulatory framework related to the multilateral trade system: the Division is very active in dispute resolution, good regulatory practice, and awareness and negotiation of WTO agreements (on TBT, SPS, etc.). High priority has been given to technical cooperation for institutional, technical and human capacity building for the negotiation, implementation and management of regional and multilateral trade agreements.
  • Supply capacity: the Division provides studies and assistance to enhance the international competitiveness of the supply capacity base in value chain integration, private sector development and business networking, as well as innovation.
  • Conformity and compliance: although in a non-recurrent manner, the Division has made important contributions to conformity and compliance by preparing studies and offering assistance on the dissemination of good practices in relation to TBT and SPS compliance, standards and technical regulations compliance, and national/regional standardization.
  • Promoting trade and exports: the Division has presented studies and made recommendations related to export strategy development and implementation.
  • Market and trade information: the Division is also very active in the provision of market and trade information through the compilation of databases on international trade and trade relations between Latin America and the Caribbean and other regions.
  • Trade facilitation: in cooperation with other regional commissions and organizations related to the field of trade facilitation, the Division has been engaged in research and the provision of assistance to the countries of the region in the fields of border management and performance monitoring systems, customs upgrading (valuation, procedures and mechanisms), custom clearance and harmonization, rules of origin, aligned trade documents, electronic standards/EDI, paperless trade and the single window environment, and is also active in the field of logistics and transport services. These services are provided to public servants of foreign trade ministries, entrepreneurs, NGOs, chambers of commerce and production, students and other members of civil society.

Among the impacts of the implementation are the improvement of ECLAC’s role as a facilitator of regional integration, and the increase in human, technical and institutional capacities among ECLAC member countries in the main categories in the field of international trade and integration.


  • Chambers of commerce of different Latin American and Caribbean countries;
  • Ministries of trade and of economy of different Latin American and Caribbean countries;
  • NGOs and government-related cooperation agencies (GTZ);
  • Other regional commissions under the framework of the 4th Tranche of the UN Development Account, Project D.

For more information:


TCB activities in this guide


  • Updated diagnostic activities and stronger links with the UN specialized agencies


  • Policy-making and policy implementation assistance


  • Integrated database of trade disputes for Latin America and the Caribbean


  • Analysis of public-private partnership for innovation and export development


  • Studies and assistance on compliance


  • Inter-regional Partnership For Promoting Trade


  • Interactive graphic system of international trade data (SIGCI)


  • Trade facilitation support


  • Activities of the UNECLAC system to promote and support South-South cooperation  during the 2010- 2011 biennium
  • Political and regulatory dialogue of the @LIS programme Alliance for the Information Society: UNECLAC European Union
  • Strengthening competition in the Central American isthmus