South-South Cooperation for Development must withstand the Emerging Political Pressures

Hong Kong December 15, 2005

On the fringes of the Hong Kong WTO Ministerial, CUTS International, Jaipur, organised a high level session to promote South-South cooperation. The session brought together representatives from the government, the private sector and the civil society organisations (CSOs) to explore future prospects and strategies for promoting South-South cooperation.

Pradeep S Mehta, Secretary General, CUTS International pointed out the increasing importance of South-South cooperation on trade and highlighted the fact that currently about 35 percent of least developing countries (LDCs) exports are to fellow LDCs.

He also stated, “the challenge of continuing this cooperation even with the competitive pressure that it generates amongst developing countries needs to be faced head-on and requires strong political commitment to find solutions.”

The challenge of deepening South-South cooperation was put into the context of the ongoing Hong Kong Ministerial by Toufiq Ali, Ambassador of Bangladesh to the WTO. Arriving fresh from deliberations at the Ministerial, he updated attendees on the attempts by developed countries to split the LDC group over the issue of duty-free and quota free access to their markets.

The US, along with other developed countries, is currently resisting efforts to offer textile and sugar producing LDCs the duty-free and quota free access to their markets.

Representing the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA), Johannesburg, Mills Soko, emphasised the need for the South-South cooperation agenda to be more focused in developing concrete projects to stimulate cooperation. He highlighted cooperation amongst India, Brazil and South Africa (IBSA) in the aerospace industry as an example to emulate.