The Economic Commission for Latin American (ECLA) was established and commenced operations in 1948. In 1984, ECLA expanded the scope of its work to include the region of the Caribbean and the organization's name was changed to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). ECLAC is one of the five regional commissions of the United Nations (UN) and includes 41 member states. It receives annual funding from the UN regular budget of approximately $35 million. The United States is a full member with voting privileges and provides 22 percent of the UN regular budget. ECLAC also receives approximately $46 million each year in extra-budgetary contributions. ECLAC's mission is to enhance coordination and cooperation among member states and international entities in an effort to advance social and economic development in Latin America. Although it previously advocated closed markets and state-run economies, ECLAC now supports trade liberalization and privatization.
ECLAC's headquarters are located in Santiago, Chile, with two additional sub-regional offices in Mexico and the Caribbean. ECLAC maintains country offices in Bogotá, Brasilia, Buenos Aires and Montevideo, and a liaison office in Washington, D.C. An Argentine economist, Jose Luis Machinea, will be heading the organization as Executive Secretary in 2003, replacing Jose Antonio Ocampo of Colombia. .
ECLAC's main products are publications of scholarly studies and statistical compilations, which are widely used by key organizations and governments to assess and project economic development in the region. The topics of ECLAC's publications include food and agriculture; industrial, scientific and technological development; international trade; development financing; sustainable development; population; women and development; statistics and economic projections; transport; transnational corporations; and regional cooperation.