Trade Policy Development > United Nations Conference
on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)

Policy advice on commodities

UNCTAD’s work on commodities, conducted by the Special Unit on Commodities (SUC) created following UNCTAD XII, consists of a balanced mix of analysis, policy advice and direct assistance in response to the needs of the public and private sectors and civil society in commodity-dependent countries.

A number of activities are carried out, including assisting developing countries to:

  • Develop national commodity strategies, including mainstreaming commodity policies into their national and regional development strategies;
  • Build supply-side capacity and attain competitiveness;
  • Move up value chains and diversify commodity sectors;
  • Comply with public and private international trade standards (sanitary and phytosanitary standards compliance, agrifood safety standards and quality requirements);
  • Access commodity information and databases through the web-based tools INFOCOMM/INFOSHARE;
  • Take advantage of export opportunities for commodities in emerging markets;
  • Build human and institutional capacities;
  • Promote and improve transparency and accountability in the public, private and corporate sectors in order to enable the countries concerned to maximize the benefits that accrue to them from the extractive industries, taking into account, where appropriate, the implementation of relevant initiatives on extractive industries;
  • Establish effective marketing systems and support frameworks for small commodity producers, including economically viable safety-net programmes;
  • Develop commodity financing and risk management schemes (including commodity exchanges).

Initiatives under development are the Commodity Policy Reviews and the Sustainable Claims Portal, which addresses, inter alia, the following issues: protection of ecosystems and biodiversity, waste management, managing scarce resources, ecological standards, soil protection, water, pollution reduction, transport, services and housing.

For more information: www.unctad.org/commodities

Trade, environment and development

UNCTAD is engaged in a broad programme of work on strengthening the capacities of developing countries, especially LDCs, to make trade and environmental policies mutually supportive and guided by a development-oriented approach.

The overarching long-term objective of UNCTAD’s programme on trade, environment and development is to enhance the capacities of developing countries to analyze those issues and address them at the national, regional and international levels in a manner consistent with their development priorities. In addition, UNCTAD promotes practical mechanisms aimed at addressing specific problems identified in its technical cooperation activities or intergovernmental work, and in the promotion of trade in environmentally friendly products. Technical cooperation and capacity building activities on trade, environment and development focus on a number of priority subjects and activities:

  • Market access issues, including environmental requirements and export competitiveness, as well as trading opportunities for environmentally-preferable products;
  • Trade liberalization in environmental goods and services (EGS);
  • Protection and sustainable use of biodiversity and traditional knowledge;
  • Various technical cooperation activities carried out under the UNEP-UNCTAD Capacity Building Task Force on Trade, Environment and Development (CBTF);
  • Assisting developing countries in seizing the trade and investment opportunities of the emerging climate regime and carbon market;
  • Activities by the International Task Force on Harmonization and Equivalence in Organic Agriculture (ITF) launched by UNCTAD, FAO and the International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements (IFOAM);
  • The Consultative Task Force on Environmental Requirements and Market Access for Developing Countries (CTF);
  • Building capacity for improved policy-making and negotiation on key trade and environment issues;
  • Activities and partnerships carried out in the context of the BioTrade Initiative at national, regional and subregional level;
  • Activities and partnerships carried out in the context of the Climate Change Programme (see below).

For more information: www.unctad.org/trade_env

Trade negotiations and commercial diplomacy

UNCTAD implements trade-related technical cooperation and capacity-building activities that assist in the beneficial integration of developing countries, especially LDCs, into the international trading system, international trade and trade negotiations so as to ensure development gains and poverty reduction. This includes activities aimed at monitoring and assessing the evolution of the trading system from a development perspective, formulating national trade policies and analyses in relation to poverty reduction, and developing trade and trade-related capacities. Key issues to be addressed include special and differential treatment, South-South trade, WTO accession, trade in services, TRIPS and development, development benchmarks (as in services), trade and poverty, and trade and gender.

For more information: http://www.unctad.org/Templates/StartPage.asp?intItemID=1917&lang=1