South-South Economic Cooperation and Development

The UN Office for South-South Cooperation fosters collaboration among Southern countries in the political, economic, social, cultural, environmental and technical domains. This cooperation is intended to assist developing countries in the global South to share knowledge, skills, expertise and resources to meet their development goals on a bilateral, regional or inter-regional basis. This form of South-South activity has resulted in increased volumes of trade, flows of direct foreign investment, technology transfers, regional integration and financial and monetary cooperation. Among the major economic objectives are programs for joint investment in energy and the promotion of financial inclusion. South American and African countries have more than a quarter of the world’s energy resources, including oil and natural gas reserves. Representatives from developing South countries meet annually at a Global Policy Forum for improving national financial inclusion strategies and policies, providing a platform for financial regulators to plan strategies for financial inclusion among participating countries.

South-South Cooperation generates solidarity and contributes to national well-being and self-reliance as well as attaining internationally-agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals and the post-2015 development agenda. The objectives are interdependent and mutually supportive while contributing to broader international development cooperation. The specific objectives are: (i) foster self-reliance of developing countries by enhancing their creative capacity to find solutions to development challenges in keeping with aspirations, values and special needs; (ii) promote and strengthen collective self-reliance among developing countries through exchange of experiences, sharing technical and other resources and development of complementary capacities; (iii) strengthen capacity of developing countries to identify and analyze development issues and formulate requisite strategies; (iv) increase quantity and quality of international development cooperation to improve the effectiveness of resources devoted to such cooperation; (v) create and strengthen existing technological resources in developing countries to improve effectiveness and enhance the capacity of developing countries to absorb and adapt technology and skills to meet specific development needs; (vi) improve communications among developing countries, leading to a greater awareness of common problems and wider access to available knowledge while encouraging innovation in tackling development challenges; (vii) recognize and respond to the problems and requirements of the least developed countries, land-locked developing countries, small island nations, and countries most seriously affected by natural disasters and other crises; (viii) enable developing countries achieve greater participation in international economic activities and expand international cooperation for development.

South-South Cooperation provides many benefits, including: (i) strengthening bargaining power of developing countries in multilateral negotiations; (ii) use of existing capacity and development of new capacities; (iii) opening of additional channels of communication; (iv) promotion and strengthening of economic integration among developing countries; (v) enhancement of the multiplier effect of technical cooperation; (vi) fostering economic, scientific and technological self-reliance; (vii) coordination of policies on development issues; (viii) development of technology adapted to local needs; (ix) promotion of national science and technology plans, economic and social planning.

Economic expansions, industrialization and technological progress in East Asian economies have been followed by similar developments in India, China, Brazil and South Africa. This economic expansion is attributable to several factors, including growing capabilities in manufacturing and services, greater investment in technologies and response to opportunities arising from globalization. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, ongoing South-South Cooperation is not restricted to economic factors alone. Some developing countries, along with their strengthening economic capabilities, are contributing towards reshaping global trade, aid and economic relations. These conditions point towards the emergence of a new paradigm for international development that extends the existing boundaries of engagement to include these countries. Rising South-South trade and investment trends are producing a significant impetus to growth in developing countries; this cooperation is helping the South to decouple from global cyclical growth, thereby promoting greater stability in the global economic system. Capital accumulation, technological change and economic diversification are all significant factors contributing to progress with South-South economic development. Capital goods imports are not only inputs for the expanding economic activities and consumption patterns in these countries; they indicate that developing countries, particularly emerging countries, are increasingly offering competitive products in a variety of industries involving a range of technologies.