United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) is an international economic forum where the developing countries give expression to their frustrations and aspirations regarding the problems of world trade and development.
UNCTAD is the first major attempt of the developing nations to come together with a view to discuss the problems of international relations and to demand for a restructuring of the world economy.
The widening of the trade gap between the developed and developing countries, the general dissatisfaction of the developing countries with the working of GATT, and the need for new institutional arrangement of international cooperation in the field of world trade and to reduce the trade gap of developing countries are the major factors which led to the establishment of UNCTAD in 1964 as a permanent agency of the United Nations.
The UNCTAD is a permanent organ of the General Assembly of the United Nations, with a staff in Geneva. The Conference has meetings at intervals of not more than four years.
It has a permanent executive body, called the Trade and Development Board. The Board, which is composed of 55 members, functions between plenary sessions of the Conference. It meets twice annually.
The Trade and Development Board has four subsidiary organs : (a) Committee on Committees, (b) Committee on Manufactures; (c) Committee on Shipping and (d) Committee on Invisible and Financing related to trade.