About the United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization founded in 1945 with one central mission: the maintenance of international peace and security. Today, the UN pursues this mission by working to prevent conflict; helping parties in conflict make peace; peacekeeping; and creating the conditions to allow peace to hold and flourish.
The United Nations is currently made up of 193 Member States, and its mandate is carried out through six main UN organs: the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council, the International Court of Justice, and the UN Secretariat. The UN system also includes many affiliated programs, funds, and specialized agencies, all with their own membership, leadership, and budget. The programs and funds are financed through voluntary rather than assessed contributions. Specialized agencies are independent international organizations funded by both voluntary and assessed contributions.
United Nations Procurement
In 2018, the United Nations’ overall procurement volume (including goods and services combined) of UN organizations grew to $18.8 billion, an increase of 1% over 2017. The U.S. was the largest country supplier to the UN system in 2018, capturing almost 9% of total UN procurement with a total procurement value of $1.64 billion.
The UN procures goods and services in six key sectors, namely: health; consultancy; administration and operation; transport; food and farming; construction and engineering; and peace and security. Please see “Doing Business with the United Nations” for additional information about United Nations procurement processes and about key procurement trends.
Doing Business with the United Nations
The UN represents a global market of nearly $20 billion annually for all types of goods and services, offering an excellent opportunity for U.S. businesses. The United States consistently ranks as the largest supplier of goods and services to the UN system and there is more room to grow.
Doing business with the United Nations requires registration with the UN’s common procurement portal, United Nations Global Marketplace (UNGM). UNGM enables vendors from around the world to register for procurement opportunities across the UN system. In turn, multiple UN agencies with the UN system can tap into the UNGM database of registered vendors to identify those vendors that meet their procurement needs. The 29 UN organizations utilizing UNGM as a vendor database account for over 98 percent of the total UN procurement spent. UNGM, therefore, provides an excellent springboard for U.S companies to introduce their products and services to many UN organizations, countries, and regions by only completing one registration form.
The U.S. Commercial Service is also available to help with registration questions and one-on-one consultations on how to do business with the United Nations. Please contact us for further information.
View United Nations Commercial Guide
Services for U.S. Companies
The U.S. Commercial Service in New York provides the following services to U.S. firms and organizations:
- Counseling: One-on-one consultations on how to do business with the United Nations.
- Market Research and Outreach: Information on United Nations project and procurement opportunities and business orientation seminars.
- Key Contacts and Outreach: Appointments with United Nations procurement experts as appropriate.
Please contact us for further information.
Free Webinar: Doing Business with the United Nations
Join the U.S. Commercial Service and U.S. Mission to the UN on Tuesday, October 27, 2020, for a Women’s Procurement webinar on doing business with the United Nations.
The U.S. Department of Commerce Deputy Assistant Secretary, U.S Ambassador to the UN, and the UN Procurement Division Director will provide remarks.
This webinar will offer a free introduction to the UN’s nearly $19 billion global procurement market, covering a wide range of goods and services. The event will be particularly informative for women-owned companies that need help getting started.
Attendees will hear about the UN procurement process, both the opportunities and challenges, and how to register as a UN vendor.
- 1:00 – 1:15 Opening Remarks
- 1:15 - 2:00 UN Procurement Overview
- 2:00 – 2:15 Q&A/Discussion
Who Should Attend
CEO/Senior Women-Owned Company Representatives are encouraged to participate from the following industries:
- Food & Fuel/Food Logistics
- Aviation/Fixed and Rotary-Wing Operators/UAVs
- Crisis Recovery/Energy/Environment
- Construction/Engineering Services/Building Materials
- Financial Services/Insurance
- Health Services/Medical/Laboratory Equipment & Supplies
- Information Technology/Communications Equipment, Software & Services
- Management/Consultancy Services
- Security/Safety Services & Equipment
- Transportation/Equipment & Services (e.g. Freight Forwarding)
- Water & Sanitation
Have questions or having trouble registering? Please contact Carmela Mammas, Director, U.S. Commercial Service - New York.
The United Nations offers a large market for U.S. firms to tap into. The UN spends nearly $20 billion annually on various types of goods and services. In 2019, total UN procurement spending was $19.9 billion, a 5.9 percent increase from 2018. Based on the latest data, the six largest sectors for UN procurement are:
- Pharmaceuticals, Contraceptives, Vaccines ($3.2 billion),
- Transportation, Storage, Mail Services ($2.7 billion),
- Food and Beverage Products ($2.1 billion),
- Management and Admin Services ($1.8 billion),
- Building and Maintenance Services ($1.4 billion), and
- Engineering and Research Services ($1.1 billion).
In 2019, the UN system procured goods and services from 217 different countries, with 133 countries having an annual procurement volume of more than $10 million each. United States companies provided the largest share of UN procurement, capturing $1.7 billion or almost 9 percent of total spending, nearly a 6 percent increase from 2018.
While there are excellent opportunities for U.S. companies with the UN, there are also challenges. These include burdensome documentation requirements and delays in verification approvals and in issuing general procurement decisions. The U.S. Commercial Service can assist U.S. firms with navigating these challenges and accessing these opportunities. This site includes market research to help U.S. companies succeed in this market.
The United Nations publishes a comprehensive annual report on the status of UN Procurement detailing expenditures by country sector and organization.
The U.S. Commercial Service annually prepares a Country Commercial Guide on Doing Business with the UN. The UN Country Commercial Guide provides an overview of UN procurement, including breakdowns of procurement by sector and category, market entry strategies, and countries dominant in the market.
Carmela Mammas, Director
New York U.S. Export Assistance Center
U.S. Commercial Service
Tel: (212) 809-2676 / (917) 301-5926