City gate by Alex Andreyev


Last week and by chance of life, I had the good fortune to cross paths with Mr. César Lajud, professor of International Economics at the European University of Madrid whose professional career and sense of humor earn my full admiration. Talking and crumbling all kinds of topics between jokes and Cokes, he turned out to give me a few very useful keys to better understand the functions of the main trade organizations that exist in the world. I found the conversation so interesting that I wanted to
I wanted to share here everything I learned that day.

It turns out that, in addition to our Cámaras de Comercio In addition to the official offices and the international offices of the Spanish embassy abroad, we have at our disposal other very active and powerful institutions to which we can turn when embarking on our international career, especially when it comes to a programmed expansion to developing countries. Cesar patiently described to me the structure, organization and main interventions of each of them, highlighting the principles under which they all work. Fundamentally:

  • promote non-discrimination between national products and products from other countries,
  • encourage the feeling of being more open, to lower trade barriers (tariffs, bans, quotas) in order to promote trade,
  • encourage economies to be predictable and transparent,
  • promote business competitiveness by discouraging unfair practices and dumping,
  • They encourage developing countries to be beneficial to developing countries by granting them more time to make adjustments, greater flexibility and some special privileges,
  • promote environmental protection.

Evidently, there are always those who find negative aspects to the actions developed by these entities and there is no shortage of criticism. Perhaps the most intense criticism is that the structural adjustment policies promoted by these organizations impose enormous social costs and sometimes have a negative impact on the environment of the most vulnerable groups.

There are many other organizations that are also responsible for spreading trade harmony among nations but, according to the professor, the ones that help and stand out the most are:


The World Bank, abbreviated as WB for World Bank, is one of the specialized agencies of the United Nations system that defines itself as a source of financial and technical assistance to developing countries. Its purpose is to reduce poverty through low-interest loans, interest-free credit at the bank level and other economic support. It was created in 1944, is made up of 186 member countries and is headquartered in Washington D.C., USA.

It is a large group made up of five institutions:

Through its different agencies, the WB manages four different types of loans, controlling aspects of investment, institutional development and public policies. They are classified as follows:

  • Loans for sectoral projects
  • Institutional project loans
  • Structural adjustment loans
  • Non-performing loans


The WTO, or World Trade Organization, is currently the forum for new negotiations of the “Doha Development Agenda”, launched in 2001. The current work of this institution stems from the negotiations held between 1986 and 1994, in the so-called Uruguay Round, and from previous negotiations of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).

At the core of the WTO are the so-called WTO Agreements, negotiated and signed by most trading countries. These documents establish the fundamental legal rules of international trade and are established as contracts that oblige governments to keep their trade policies within agreed limits.

The primary purpose of this system is to help trade flow as freely as possible without side effects, because this is important for economic development and welfare.


Founded in 1961, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) brings together 34 member countries and its mission is to promote policies that improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.

The OECD is a forum where governments work together to share experiences and seek solutions to common problems. They work to understand what drives economic, social and environmental change, measuring productivity and global trade flows. They also analyze and compare data to forecast trends, setting international standards across a wide range of policy issues.


The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) was created in 1964 in Geneva, Switzerland, where it is also headquartered, to analyze and attempt to resolve the international trade problems of underdeveloped countries.

The Accra Accord reached at UNCTAD XII in 2008 advocates a constructive trade and development agenda based on three pillars:

  • policy analysis
  • consensus building
  • technical cooperation

UNCTAD is the United Nations focal point for the integrated treatment of trade and development and interrelated issues in the areas of finance, technology, investment and sustainable development. It also provides direct technical assistance to developing countries and economies in transition to strengthen the capacities needed for their equal integration into the world economy and to improve the well-being of their populations.

Its action can be summed up in three words: reflect, dialogue and implement ways to achieve global economic equilibrium.


The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an international institution created in 1945, headquartered in Washington USA, which brings together 188 member countries. Its role is to:

  • to promote international monetary cooperation,
  • facilitate the expansion and balanced growth of international trade,
  • promote exchange rate stability,
  • to contribute to the establishment of a multilateral system of payments for current transactions among member countries, and to eliminate exchange restrictions that hinder the expansion of world trade,
  • to instill confidence in member countries by making Fund resources available to them temporarily and with adequate guarantees, thus giving them an opportunity to correct imbalances in their balance of payments.

By the way, Spain is a member of all of them!


A development bank is a bank that finances, usually at below-market interest rates, projects aimed at promoting the economic development of a given region or group of countries.

The Bank’s capital is generally made up of contributions from member countries, which have a weighted vote according to the amount of their contribution.

Its purpose is to develop certain sectors (agriculture, auto parts, textiles), attend to and solve regional financing problems and promote certain economic activities (exports, development of suppliers, creation of new companies).



The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) is an international financial organization headquartered in Washington D.C., USA, and created in 1959 to finance viable economic, social and institutional development projects and promote regional trade integration in Latin America and the Caribbean. It is the largest development financial institution of its kind.

Other important development banks are:

Quickly and taking advantage of the serious and formal nature of this article, I include below the national entities where to find support, consultancy, financing, promotion, training, innovation, current news and the necessary adaptation guidelines to start exporting.

  • SPRI, the Basque Business Development Agency under the Basque Government.
  • EXTENDA, the Agency for the Promotion of International Trade of the Autonomous Community of Andalusia.
  • COPCA: the Consorci de Promoció Comercial de Catalunya, an instrument of the Government of the Generalitat de Catalunya.
  • IGAPE: the Galician Institute for Economic Promotion, attached to the Regional Ministry of Economy and Industry for the economic development of Galicia.
  • IVACE: the Instituto Valenciano de Competitividad Empresarial of the Generalitat Valenciana.

Original source: “The Official National and International Trade Agencies”, by Ruth Saiz.

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