South-South and North-South Cooperation: The New Dynamics of the Global Economy

One of the first parallel sessions of the conference attracted 20 participants to hear three speakers presenting an ongoing joint research project between UN-CRIS and UN-WIDER. The session, entitled ‘South-South Integration in a North-South Context’ explored the development impacts of South-South trade agreements compared to the alternative, and often more favoured North-South Integration.

South-South trade agreements continue to grow in popularity despite the argument that they do not provide the same socio-economic benefits as North-South agreements (of 61 Regional Arrangements studied by the project, 40 are south-south). In reality, there is little evidence to support this view.

Philippe Lombaerde, the first speaker from UNU-CRIS said that there is need to look more critically at the compatibility of existing North-South agreements and the growing number of agreements between southern countries.

Alisa DiCaprio, the second speaker from UNU-WIDER talked about EU choosing to replace unilateral agreements with reciprocal Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) [see presentation]. DiCaprio stressed the fundamental change this will have on the position of LDCs in the international trading system by bringing these countries under similar rules governing developing countries more generally. She said that there is room for innovation in addressing vulnerability within the EPAs, but warned that the commitments need to be binding.

Manual F Montes, the final speaker from UN-DESA, said that in East Asia many people regarded South-South arrangements ‘as a way for the North to renege on their economic agreements with the South’. He stressed the importance of China’s role in the recovery of the region. But he said that the recovery was not sustainable because their export-based economies are dependant on demand from markets outside of their borders, in the west. “The Asian crisis in 1990s was a dress rehearsal for the global financial crisis, but east and western Europe didn’t learn that lesson”. Since the 1990s, the region has been trying to build up alternative regional partnerships but progress has been slow.

New challenges are also increasingly evident for Least Developed Countries (LDCs). These countries have traditionally operated outside of those established trade agreements governing other countries. LDC trade agreements are typically flexible, containing special measures to integrate structurally weak countries into the formal trading system.

See more stories from the GDN 2010 Conference, watch participants’ videos interviews, download conference presentations and papers

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About Pier Andrea Pirani
Information, knowledge sharing and communications in international development - Social media and collaboration tools.

One Response to South-South and North-South Cooperation: The New Dynamics of the Global Economy

  1. Pingback: Communiqué: 11th Annual Global Development Conference Delivers Key Messages on Economic and Regional Integration « GDN 2010 Annual Conference

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