United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development held in Geneva in 1964 was the culmination of a long period of preparation and of pressure by the poorer nations of the world for international recognition of their economic problems and of the relationship between trade and economic development. The genesis of the Conference is complex. It reflects, among other things, an obvious change in world economic and political contexts since the Second World War, and a shift in thinking about the handling of human and material resources; hence the difference in names of the last world economic conference in Havana in 1948 – the United Nations Conference on Trade and Employment – and the 1964 Geneva meeting.
One hundred and twenty countries, including New Zealand, were represented at the Conference. They faced an ambitious programme of wide scope, covering trade and shipping matters, the coordination of trade and aid policies, and the drawing up of general principles for the expansion of international trade.
The examination and identification of fundamental trading and economic issues became the basic task of the Conference. In clear-cut political terms this issue emerged as the transfer of resources from rich countries to poor countries; but the inevitable confrontation between industrialised and developing countries did lead ultimately to certain limited compromise agreements.
In view of the complexity of the issues, the size of the Conference and the difficulties in preparing adequately for it, it is not surprising that only limited progress in trade and economic matters was achieved. Nevertheless important recommendations were agreed that would enable the work started by the Conference to proceed. These included the establishment of the Conference as a continuing organ of the United Nations General Assembly (to be convened at intervals of not more than three years) and the setting up of a representative 55 nation Trade and Development Board. These recommendations were adopted by the General Assembly.
New Zealand was elected to the Trade and Development Board and is a member also of committees established by the Board to carry out studies and make recommendations on questions of international commodity trade and shipping.
by John Joseph Bryant, B.A., Trade Officer, Department of Industries and Commerce, Wellington.