unctad.org | Single-year expert meeting on the contribution of foreign direct investment to the transfer and diffusion of technology and know-how for sustainable development in developing countries, especially least developed countries
Single-year expert meeting on the contribution of foreign direct investment to the transfer and diffusion of technology and know-how for sustainable development in developing countries, especially least developed countries
16 - 18 February 2011

Key Issues

Technological progress is crucial for economic development, and TNCs play a major role in generating and disseminating new technologies. In terms of technology generation, TNCs account for about half of the world´s total research and development (R&D) expenditure and more than two-thirds of the world´s business R&D. They transfer technologies in many forms, through both internalized and externalized channels and the bulk of technology dissemination is undertaken within the networks of TNCs.

Today, TNCs have become one of the main sources of new technology to the developing world. In the meantime, some TNCs are relocating elements of their R&D activities to developing economies.

The purpose of this expert meeting is to bring together experts, government policymakers and representatives from TNCs, as well as civil society and academia, to address the relationship between FDI and technology transfer, and in particular its development implications.

While technology transfer and its diffusion in developing host countries affects the latter´s productive capacity, productivity and international competitiveness in several ways, key aspects of this relationship also include issues such as absorptive capacity, technology targeting (by recipient countries; how well does the technology received "fit" with the local national innovation system) and safeguarding countries from potentially negative consequences. All of this applies even more so to least developed countries (LDCs), and the meeting will therefore address the relevant nuances in this respect.

Among other things, the meeting aims to identify and investigate successful cases at different levels, including at the firm, industry (including low-carbon activities) and country levels. It will also explore the role of government policies at the national and international levels, including national innovation policies, in encouraging both domestic and foreign investments in building productive and adaptive capacities.

In this respect, the expert meeting is expected to contribute to the achievement of "practical/actionable" outcomes (as identified in paragraph 207 of the Accra Accord), including specific forward-looking, action-oriented policy recommendations for developing countries, especially LDCs.



The Single-year Expert Meeting on the Contribution of Foreign Direct Investment to the Transfer and Diffusion of Technology and Know-how for Sustainable Development in Developing Countries, Especially Least Developed Countries will examine the role of foreign direct investment (FDI) in technology transfer and dissemination in the context of developing countries, and discuss policy options and best practices to enhance the technological and innovative contributions of transnational corporations (TNCs).

The meeting will take place 16-18 February 2011, in room XXVI of the Palais des Nations, Geneva. It will be opened by the Secretary-General of UNCTAD at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 16 February 2011.


UNCTAD member States are requested to nominate experts no later than 2 February 2011.

Experts, who will participate in the meeting in their personal capacities, are expected to have proven expertise in the subject, and they may be selected from governmental and non- governmental organizations, private entities or academia.

The meeting may be of particular interest to government officials dealing with issues related to foreign investment and technology and innovation policies. In addition, experts from international and regional organizations will be invited as resource persons.

Specialized agencies and intergovernmental bodies wishing to participate in the meeting, as well as non-governmental organizations in the general category and those in the special category wishing to participate as observers, are requested to inform the UNCTAD secretariat of the names of their representatives by 2 February 2011.

Financial assistance

Depending on the availability of funding in the Trust Fund for Financing the Participation of Experts at the time, funds may be made available to finance the participation of a limited number of officially nominated experts from developing countries and countries with economies in transition. Governments requiring funding are therefore invited to explicitly request financing in their letters of nomination. The decision as to which experts should receive financing will be based on the principle of equitable geographical representation; needs of beneficiaries, in particular LDCs; and the expertise of the experts concerned. Changes in nominated experts will be considered as new nominations.

Nominations with requests for financing should be received no later than 23 December 2010 and should be accompanied by the following information about the nominee:

  • Curriculum vitae
  • Mailing address
  • Telephone and fax number
  • E-mail address
  • Name of a contact person in the Permanent Mission in Geneva

It should be noted in this connection that, once the list of experts to be financed has been finalized, all travel arrangements will be made in accordance with United Nations rules and regulations, although use of the least costly fare will be authorized.

Background documents and contributed papers

The provisional agenda for the meeting, together with the secretariat´s annotations thereto, will be circulated as document TD/B/C.II/EM.2/1. In order to facilitate the discussion, the UNCTAD secretariat has prepared an issues note, which will be circulated as TD/B/C.II/EM.2/2.

In addition, all experts are encouraged to prepare and submit brief papers related to one or several of the issues contained in the provisional agenda to the meeting, as well as those relating to their country´s experience in emerging sectors including climate change. These papers will be made available to the meeting in the form and language in which they are received.


The meeting will take place at the United Nations Office at Geneva, Palais des Nations. Simultaneous interpretation will be provided in the six official languages of the United Nations.

Upon arrival, participants are requested, before entering the Palais des Nations, to collect their badges at the United Nations Security Service, Pregny Gate entrance, 14 Avenue de la Paix.

The Security Service is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Because of the security measures in force, participants are strongly advised to arrive before 9 a.m. in order to complete entry procedures in good time and proceed to the meeting in the E-Building (Bâtiment E) of the Palais. Participants are requested to carry a passport or similar national identity card with them. Taxis are not allowed to enter the grounds of the Palais des Nations, and visitors will therefore be dropped off at the entrance gates. Furthermore, luggage may not be brought into the buildings unless the United Nations Security Service gives special clearance.

Further information and contact details

Nominations and related communications concerning representation at the meeting should be sent to the UNCTAD secretariat, Intergovernmental Support Service, Palais des Nations, CH- 1211 Geneva 10. fax: + 41(0) 22 917 0214; e-mail: meetings@unctad.org.

All other enquiries should be addressed to the coordinators in the substantive division, tel.: +41 (0)22 917 1124 or +41 (0)22 917 5756; fax: +41 (0)22 917 0194; e-mail: masataka.fujita@unctad.org.


Supachai Panitchpakdi
Secretary-General of UNCTAD
30 November 2010


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