World Statis...OrganizersUnited Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)

UNCTADEstablished in 1964, UNCTAD is the United Nations focal point for trade, development and interrelated issues in the areas of finance, technology, investment and durable development. Through the years, UNCTAD has evolved into an authoritative knowledge-based institution that promotes economic policies and strategies at the national and international levels, supportive of sustained growth and poverty reduction.

The organization works to fulfil this mandate by carrying out research, policy analysis and data collection for the debates of government representatives and experts. It provides technical assistance adapted to the specific requirements of developing countries, with special attention to the needs of the least developed countries and economies in transition. Read more at

Without statistics, it is impossible to conduct research on both long-standing and emerging development issues. The strength of UNCTAD is that it is a middle point between the data providers and final users of their statistics. Thus, on the one hand, it regularly explores new areas and develops new indicators to keep abreast of new information demands from its constituencies. On the other, it identifies, gathers and reconciles information from different data sources.

To improve the quality of its service, UNCTAD always strives to overcome weaknesses in some reported data. As many practitioners agree, one of the biggest problems is the lack of comparable or reliable data in many developing countries, especially least developed countries, and some economies in transition. No matter the difficulties, by applying its expertise and sharing its valuable know-how by means of technical cooperation, UNCTAD statistics are able to facilitate ahead-of-the-curve research.


UNCTAD Statistical portfolio

UNCTAD gives free access to a wide range of statistical time series and statistical indicators, mainly in the areas of:

  • International trade, merchandise and services:
    - Trade trends and indicators, trade structure, market access;
  • Economic trends:
    - National accounts, balance of payments, exchange rates, inflation rates;
  • Foreign direct investment:
    - Foreign direct investment stocks and flows, mergers and acquisitions;
  • External financial resources:
    - Foreign direct investment flows, migrants’ remittances, development assistance, external debt, international reserves;
  • Population and labour force:
    -  Population, labour force and employment;
  • Commodities:
    - Commodity price long-term trends, commodity price instability;
  • Information economy:
    -  Information and communications technology (ICT) goods, use of ICT by business;
  • Creative economy:
    - Creative industry products trade, creative industry services trade;
  • Maritime transport:
    - World merchant fleet and related indicators.

UNCTAD disseminates the statistics it collects and develops through:

  • UNCTADSTAT provides free online access to statistics produced by UNCTAD to everyone. It is a result of the organization's constant efforts to further develop its statistical information system which allows building new, elaborated statistical variables and indicators. The launch of UNCTADSTAT is planned to coincide with World Statistics Day;

 Handbook of Statistics

  • The UNCTAD Handbook of Statistics provides a comprehensive collection of statistical data relevant to the analysis of international trade, investment and development, for individual countries and for economic and trade groupings. It presents reference statistics considered of particular importance for describing, in the context of globalization, how developing countries have evolved in recent decades. The UNCTAD Handbook of Statistics is published in hard copy and on DVD;


  • Other UNCTAD reports that make reference to selected statistics presented in a statistical annex. Read more ...


Message of Mr. Supachai Panitchpakdi, the UNCTAD Secretary-General, on World Statistics Day:

Designing strategies to achieve sustainable development for present and future generations crucially relies on statistics capturing long-standing and emerging trends as well as key relationships between them.

Each data point, each figure is a piece of the statistical puzzle whose solution will give us a measured representation of our world.  Of course, despite existing standards and guidelines in virtually every area of statistics, there are still many gaps in the "puzzle", and the pieces do not always fit into together.

It is in this context that UNCTAD statisticians and economists work on a daily basis to check and reconcile data, so as to provide an ever more accurate representation of economic realities.  World Statistics Day is a unique opportunity to recognize the dedication of UNCTAD, other Geneva-based international organizations and the wider statistician community as a whole to delivering impartial public information for the improvement of official statistics.

The conference "Measuring a Globalized World: the Geneva Contribution" - uniting policy makers, economists, academia, media and statisticians for discussion - is a unique opportunity to stimulate dialogue between statisticians and data users.

On this occasion, UNCTAD would particularly like to draw the attention of the international community to the continuing needs of the developing countries in the area of statistics. Too many of them have to fight the brain drain of their trained and experienced statisticians and the lack of resources to cover their statistics needs.

We need to work together to enable all countries to make statistics an engine of their development.  Let us put the pieces of the "statistical puzzle" together.



Contact details:

Development Statistics and Information Branch
Division on Globalization and Development Strategies
Palais des Nations
Avenue de la Paix, 14
CH-1211 Geneva  10
Fax: +41 22 917 00 48