South-South cooperation: mapping new frontiers

South-South cooperation: mapping new frontiers

Ideological solidarity apart, what has imparted an added traction and resonance to South-South Cooperation is a marked increase in intra-South trade, investment and developmental cooperation. The 2008 global economic slowdown, by default, proved to be a trigger for enhanced SSC due to shrinking of resource and developmental aid/ODI flow from developed countries of the North, propelling emerging economies of the southern countries to step up mutual sharing of funds, knowledge and expertise. The increased South-South cooperation, however, needs a reality check, and has to factor into account the declining growth rates in major BRICS emerging economies, except India.

The overall renaissance of the South has coincided with the relative slowdown in large parts of the developed world, resulting in a marked decline of ODA by North countries. This shifting global situation is leading to a reconfiguration of global development architecture, necessitating enhanced SSC in areas which are pivotal to continued economic flowering of the South. The areas of development include financing and partnership, peace and security, environment, people-centered development, and science, technology and innovation (STI).

Against this backdrop, the South began looking beyond the North-South Cooperation (NSC) and Triangular Development Cooperation (TDC), which had traditionally been fuelled by the Official Development Assistance (ODA) for development cooperation. Refreshingly, the Southern consensus on development cooperation is emerging, which is marked by an equal partnership among sharing countries, unlike the donor-recipient or patron-client relationship that characterised aid giving by OECD. Unlike the Washington/World Bank-IMF consensus, the Southern paradigm is distinguished by development cooperation which is free of external conditionalities and is not based on imposition, but on the requests and priorities of recipient countries. The SSC is underpinned by “Development Compact', which works at five different levels: trade and investment, technology, skill upgradation, lines of credit and grants. The increase in engagement of emerging economies with other countries of the South entails accelerated cooperation across all these areas.

In this context, it should be emphasised that the evolving Southern consensus is not a monolithic construct, but is marked by a plurality of approach vis-à-vis developmental cooperation within the broad ambit of core ideas of solidarity that bind SSC. Over the last few years, South-South Cooperation (SSC) has, therefore, emerged as a sustainable parallel mechanism to support empowerment of developing countries and the global quest for improved quality of life across the world.

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