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On Planning for Development:       Trade and Development Reports (UNCTAD)

2013 - Adjusting to the changing dynamics of the world economy

Five years after the onset of the global financial crisis the world economy remains in a state of disarray, with global output growing at around 2 per cent and global trade growth virtually grounding to a halt, the Trade and Development Report (TDR) 2013 stresses. Growth remains subdued in developed countries, where labour market conditions, fiscal tightening and on-going deleveraging hinder domestic demand. With an external economic environment showing few signs of improvement, developing and transition economies could not avoid growth deceleration.
Prior to the Great Recession, buoyant consumer demand in the developed countries seemed to justify the adoption of an export-oriented growth model by many developing and transition economies. But that expansion was built on unsustainable global demand and financing patterns. Thus, reverting to pre-crisis growth strategies cannot be an option. The Report notes that to adjust to what now appears to be a structural shift of the world economy, fundamental changes in prevailing growth strategies are needed.
TDR 2013 notes that developed countries must address the fundamental causes of the crisis: rising income inequality, the diminishing economic role of the State, the predominant role of a poorly regulated financial sector and an international system prone to global imbalances; while developing and transition economies that have been overly dependent on exports need to adopt a more balanced growth strategy that gives a greater role to domestic and regional demand.

2012 - Policies for Inclusive and Balanced Growth
12 Sep 2012, full text
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The world economy, which continues to suffer from the fallout of the financial crisis that began in late 2007 and the meltdown in September 2008, has not been able to revive the growth conditions of the preceding decade. Those conditions had been particularly supportive of economic and social progress in the developing world, and the resulting momentum, especially in some of the larger developing countries, helped to stoke recovery in the world economy once the worst of the crisis had been contained. However, those countries are now losing that momentum and downside risks for the world economy are growing again.
The immediate problem is the inability of the developed countries to return to a normal growth pattern, but there is also an equally serious problem of contagion. Amidst their fragile recovery, an unreformed (and unrepentant) financial sector and macroeconomic policies that are timid at best, and counterproductive at worst, the developing countries will find it difficult to sustain their own growth dynamic, let alone that of the global economy.

1981–2011: Three Decades of Thinking Development
- 23 April 2012

A recurrent aspect of the TDR has been its, frequently implicit, discussion of the role of the State in economic activity, in general, and in economic development, in particular. The TDR has distinguished itself from reports of other organizations in taking a prudent attitude towards the merits of the free market. However, it has never served as an agent in favour of an “antimarket” ideology. Rather, it has aimed at promoting well-targeted pragmatism in policy-making.
The concern of the TDR has not been “State vs. market”, but effective policy vs. “market fundamentalism”. Accordingly, it has tried to help developing countries to create what is sometimes called a “developmental state”. In this regard the TDR has remained consistent over the 30 years of its existence.

2011: Post-crisis Policy Challenges in the World Economy
- 6 September 2011

Economic integration and interdependence in the world today have reached an unprecedented level. As a result, the globalized economy cannot function for the benefit of all without international solidarity and cooperation. This was highlighted by the global financial and economic crisis that followed the collapse of big financial institutions, and it has underlined the need for developing approaches to new forms of global collaboration. The G-20, which has become a leading forum for international economic cooperation, successfully coordinated an immediate policy response to the crisis, or “Great Recession” as it is now called. Coordinated monetary policy easing by leading central banks marked the first step, with most members of the G-20 launching large fiscal stimulus packages as well as emergency support programmes to restore financial stability. The aggregate impact of these measures stopped the economic freefall and won policymakers an important first round in battling the crisis.
However, despite intense discussions, little progress, if any, has been achieved in major areas that were also of concern to the G-20. These include financial regulation, inter alia for tackling problems related to the “financialization” of markets for many primary commodities, and, even more importantly, reform of the international monetary system for curbing volatile short-term capital flows that are driven mainly by currency speculation.

2010: Employment, Globalisation and Development
The global upturn from what is considered the worst economic and financial crisis since the 1930s remains fragile, and a premature exit from demand-stimulating macroeconomic policies aimed at fiscal consolidation could stall the recovery. A continuation of the expansionary fiscal stance is necessary to prevent a deflationary spiral and a further worsening of the employment situation.
It is becoming clear that not all countries can rely on exports to boost growth and employment; more than ever they need to give greater attention to strengthening domestic demand. This is especially true today, because it is unlikely that the United States’ former role as the global engine of growth can be assumed by any other country or countries. The shift in focus on domestic-demand-led growth is necessary both in developed and emerging-market economies with large current-account surpluses and underutilized production potential in order to prevent the recurrence of imbalances similar to those that contributed to the outbreak of the global financial crisis. But it is also important for many developing countries that have become heavily dependent on external demand for growth and for creating employment for their growing labour force.

2009: Responding to the global crisis Climate change mitigation and development
Speculators may do no harm as bubbles on a steady stream of enterprise. But the position is serious when enterprise becomes the bubble on a whirlpool of speculation. When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. The measure of success attained by Wall Street, regarded as an institution of which the proper social purpose is to direct new investment into the most profitable channels in terms of future yield, cannot be claimed as one of the outstanding triumphs of laissez-faire capitalism – which is not surprising, if I am right in thinking that the best brains of Wall Street have been in fact directed towards a different object. J.M. Keynes, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1936: 159)

2008: Commodity prices, capital flows and the financing of investment
Since 1999, many developing countries have registered strong improvements in their external balances, and their aggregate current account has swung into surplus. As a result, as a group they have become net exporters of capital to developed countries. Many of them, particularly a number of fast growing exporters of manufactures, owe this situation to their successful global integration and to a reorientation of their macroeconomic policies towards a greater focus on competitive exchange rates. In other countries, substantially increased earnings from primary commodity exports have also led to stronger current-account positions.
But the situation is fragile: uncertainty and instability in international financial, currency and commodity markets, coupled with doubts about the direction of monetary policy in some major developed countries, are contributing to a gloomy outlook for the world economy and could present considerable risks for the developing world. Many developing countries that have seen improvements in their terms of trade in recent years remain highly vulnerable to a possible prolonged global slowdown and an end to the commodity boom. For a number of them, higher prices of their net food and energy imports have already created a heavy burden, particularly for the poorer segments of their populations, seriously jeopardizing progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set by the United Nations in 2000.

2007: Regional cooperation for development
The Trade and Development Report 2007,... recommends that developing countries should strengthen regional cooperation with other developing countries, but proceed carefully with regard to North-South bilateral or regional preferential trade agreements. Such agreements may offer gains in terms of market access and higher foreign direct investment, but they can also limit national policy space, which can play an important role in the medium- and long-term growth of competitive industries

2006: Global partnership and national policies for development
"The rules and commitments of the international trading regime restrict the de jure ability of developing nations to adopt national development policy".
"Rules and commitments, which in legal terms are equally binding for all countries, in economic terms might impose more binding constraints on developing countries"(p. 167)

2005: New Features of Global Interdependence
"Natural-resource endowments determine the degree to which self
sufficiency in food and raw materials is compatible with rapid industrial development and growth ... but the balance-of-payments constraint limits import growth." (p. 52)

2004: Policy coherence, development strategies and integration into the world economy
"The search for economic stability is not between autarky and surrendering national sovereignty to the expansive logic of markets." (p. 97)

2003: Capital Accumulation, Growth and Structural Change
With the leading industrial countries still not pulling in the same direction, prospects for much of the developing world are clouded by tensions in the trading system, volatility in the currency market and deflationary pressures. This year┤s Report traces the difficulties back to the pattern of global trade and financial flows in the 1990s. But the Report also asks whether market-led reforms adopted in many developing countries after the debt crisis of the early 1980s have strengthened these countries┤ ability to withstand external shocks.

2002: Developing Countries in World Trade
The Trade and Development Report 2002 analyses trends and outlooks for the world economy and focuses on export dynamism and industrialization in developing countries. It demonstrates that, although integration into world trade is essential, it is not in itself sufficient for ensuring a country┤s development. The Report questions the conventional wisdom that export growth and foreign direct investment (FDI) automatically generate commensurate income gains.

2001: Global Trends and Prospects - Financial Architecture
International economic issues touch the lives of people everywhere. Whether grappling with the challenges posed by new information technologies, seeking to draw policy lessons from financial crises in emerging markets, or assessing the possible impact of China┤s entry into the World Trade Organization, we look to economics as a guide in our rapidly changing world. The poorest nations especially require a clear economic road map if they are to make progress against the persistent problems of hunger, ill health and social insecurity.

2000: Global Economic Growth and Imbalances
Even as the digital age creates new opportunities, financial fragilities in the world economy continue to constrain policy makers everywhere. Given the severity of East Asia┤s financial crisis, much of the focus and concern in recent years has been on developments in the region. This year┤s Report takes a careful look at the forces driving the recovery in East Asia, its weakness and the long-term prospects and policy for sustained growth and development.

1999: Fragile Recovery and Risks - Trade Finance and Growth
The 1999 Report makes compelling reading for those seeking answers to some of the most pressing policy challenges in today┤s rapidly changing global economy. The Report offers: A detailed empirical analysis of the links between economic growth, external deficits and instability in developing countries over the past three decades. - An explanation of why trade rather than augmented private capital flows is the more secure basis for development in the South, outlining a positive trade agenda for developing countries in the next round of trade negotiations. - A comparison of recent financial crises in Asia, Russia and Latin America. - An extensive discussion of trends in the world oil market and its impact on oil exporters and importers.

1998: Financial Instability, Growth in Africa
The 1998 Report makes compelling reading for those seeking answers to some of the most pressing policy challenges in today┤s rapidly changing global economy. The Report offers: An in-depth analysis of the causes and consequences of the financial turmoil currently sweeping across the global economy - New ideas on reforming the international financial system to diminish the chances of future crises and to ensure their better management if they do occur - A fresh approach to development prospects in Africa and the kind of policy measures and institutional reforms that might help to revitalize investment and sustain growth across the region

1997: Globalization, Distribution and Growth
The 1997 Report makes compelling reading for those seeking new knowledge and insights into the effects of globalization. The Report offers in-depth analyses of:
The impact of globalization on income distribution and economic growth
Polarization and income inequality among and within countries
The links between profits, income levels and investment in today┤s globalizing world

1996: Globalization and the poor
The UNCTAD Trade and Development Report, 1996 (TDR) makes compelling reading for those seeking to go beyond mainstream analysis of globalization and its impact on the world economy. Will globalization improve the lives of the two billion poor in the developing world? What are its costs? What are its prospects in terms of employment in the North? TDR 96 provides thought-provoking answers to these questions.

Trade and Development Report, 1984 (UNCTAD/TDR/4/Rev. 1)
Trade and Development Report 1982 (UNCTAD/TDR/2/Rev.l )
Trade and Development Report 1982 (UNCTAD/TDR/2/Rev.l)
Digital library of UNCTAD, CD-Roms and on-line data sources
Statistics is an inherent part of UNCTAD. Being the United Nations' focal point for the integrated treatment of trade and development and the interrelated issues in the areas of finance, technology, investment and sustainable development, UNCTAD compiles, validates and processes a wide range of data collected from national and international sources. Most of the time series cover long periods, with some dating back to 1948, for almost all economies of the world.

Back to International Reports

UNCTAD Handbook of Statistics (several years)

World Investment Reports (WIR)
World Investment Reports (selected statistics)
UNCTAD X: documents and papers
UNCTAD investment brief, No. 1, 2007, Foreign direct investment surged again in 2006 (UNCTAD/ITE/IIA/MISC/2007/2)
01/02/07, 2 Pages, 58 Kb
Transport Newsletter, No. 34, Fourth Quarter 2006 (UNCTAD/SDTE/TLB/2006/5)
31/01/07, 21 Pages, 466 Kb
World economic situation and prospects 2007 (WESP/2007)
Sales no.: E.07.II.C.2
01/01/07, 177 Pages, 1913 Kb
UNCTAD investment brief BRIEF, No. 5, 2006, Top TNCs present in 40 host countries on average (UNCTAD/WEB/ITE/IIA/2006/10)
01/12/06, 2 Pages, 55 Kb