UNDP Around the world

Trade, intellectual property and migration

 Trade, Intellectual PropertyPhoto: Marta Remoneda/UNDP

Globalization has the potential to advance human development around the world. It can boost economic growth and create jobs. It can enable developing countries to access new technologies that improve their productivity. It can facilitate access to capital to make needed investments.

However, for the vast majority of developing countries, globalization has not increased incomes as quickly as predicted. While global aggregate income is increasing, inequalities are deepening across and within many countries. Among developing countries, the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) are particularly disadvantaged.

But what prevents developing countries from taking advantage of globalization?

A combination of both internal and external constraints undermines the prospects for the poorest countries to integrate into the global economy. Internally, they are faced with supply side constraints, such as the lack of physical infrastructure, poor economic governance institutions, little access to rule of law, and a lack of healthy and skilled labour force. Externally, the complexity and structure of the international policy environment, which comprises a web of issues and rules related to global trade, investment, migration, intellectual property, debt sustainability and aid policy, prevents them from fully benefiting from globalization. The global economic crisis threatens further the gains that developing countries can make from globalization.

These domestic and external constraints, compounded by the lack of capacity, render many developing countries unable to put in place and sustain national policies that will enhance their productivity and raise incomes. Even if domestic policies are well formulated, they will not be as effective unless the international trade and investment regime is supportive of the MDGs and other internationally agreed development goals. LDCs, Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are particularly challenged.

UNDP works in several areas to support developing countries:

  • Advocating for the Global Partnership for Development - a more favorable international policy environment in areas such as international trade, foreign direct investment (FDI), intellectual property rights, technology transfer and migration;
  • Enhancing developing country capacity to better integrate into the global economic system in a way that prioritizes human development and reduces poverty and inequality;
  • Through the Enhanced Integrated Framework and the Aid for Trade initiatives, collaborating with UN agencies and international development partners - including International Monetary Fund (IMF), International Trade Centre (ITC), Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), United Nations Conference on Trade and Devleopment (UNCTAD), World Bank (WB) and World Trade Organisation (WTO ) - to provide trade-related technical assistance designed to help LDCs and other developing countries to strengthen their supply-side capacity;
  • Advocating for solutions to the distinct challenges faced by LDCs, LLDCs, SIDS and other commodity-dependent countries in a globalizing economy;
  • Implementing innovative projects in the context of international intellectual property agreements, such as facilitating access to affordable HIV and AIDS drugs and advising on how to protect native plant variety rights, traditional knowledge and natural resources.