Launch of new UNOSSC South-South Ideas Papers at the 2021 WTO Aid-for-Trade Stocktaking Event

By April 5, 2021 April 9th, 2021 News

On 24 March 2021, the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) launched four new South-South Ideas Papers with presentations from the authors, at a webinar on ‘The Role of South-South Cooperation and Digital Technology in Structuring a Globally Inclusive Post-COVID-19 Economic Architecture for Increased Trade Facilitation’, organized at the 2021 World Trade Organization Aid-for-Trade Stocktaking Event.

With opening remarks provided by Dr. Adel Abdellatif, Director, Ad Interim (a.i), the discussions in the session focused on: a) South-South cooperation and digitalization in trade and investment; b) South-South cooperation modalities and instruments for accelerating regional trade integration and for creating a more balanced international trade regime; c) South-South cooperation and financial technology in a globally inclusive economic architecture; and d) Challenges and prospects in the context of sustainable recovery.

Dr. Xiaojun Grace Wang, Deputy Director, UNOSSC, thanked the authors at the event for voluntarily contributing to the South-South Ideas papers. “This series of papers aims to encourage such candid and open sharing of ideas, of research findings and policy recommendations on the issue of South-South cooperation and the Sustainable Development Goals, although it doesn’t represent any official position of the United Nations or UNOSSC. It is a very rich reservoir of knowledge and ideas (…) and brings diversity of views and debate to important policy issues on SSC,” said Dr. Wang. She expressed her hope that “this kind of debate can continue and can inspire and inform policy making process, and thanked the China Association of Trade in Services (CATIS) for their support with web broadcasting the event. Watch the recording.

About the South-South Ideas Papers

The South-South Ideas Papers Series is produced by the South-South Global Thinkers Initiative – a global coalition of think tank networks for South-South cooperation, supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC).

The South-South Ideas Papers present an opportunity to disseminate an extensive and cross-disciplinary breadth of knowledge on the topic of South-South and triangular Cooperation, to allow for readers to access research material and policy proposals under one umbrella and supplement the amplification of diverse and relevant Southern perspectives on issues in development cooperation and the SDGs.

Additional information about these publications found below:

South-South Cooperation Finance for Mobilization of the Private Sector to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals

Author: Ms. Bineswaree Bolaky, Economic Affairs Officer, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)

This paper addresses three questions. First, the emerging financial mechanisms, including private sector led initiatives designed to foster resource mobilization in the Global South. Second, it critiques the existing Northern-led financial order with the purpose of identifying the weaknesses and strengths of the current global financial governance architecture. And third, it makes the case for a new/emerging Southern-led financial architecture with active private sector participation and sketches what should be the guiding principles underlying it and the modalities and instruments that can be deployed to mobilize resources within it. It addresses how South-South Cooperation can facilitate the use of the new financial institutions. As such, it encourages the move towards a Southern-led financial architecture, anchored around a set of common principles for development effectiveness, yet putting at heart the national interests of recipients and their needs for broad-based sustainable development. Learn more and access publication here.

South-South Cooperation Modalities and Instruments for Accelerating Regional Trade in Africa  

Author: Dr. George Kararach, Lead Economist, African Development Bank (AfDB)

There is an ongoing debate about the benefits of South-South Cooperation (SSC), particularly with respect to trade, for Africa. These discussions have partly resulted in several initiatives including the formation of regional economic communities (RECs) and the recent African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA). Yet the lack of capacity – defined as the ability to deliver individual, organizational and state objectives and mandates – constrained Africa from taking advantage of trade and investment opportunities presented by the global economy. However, the continent has made significant strides in lifting some of the constraints hindering its efforts in achieving sustainable development and reducing abject poverty. In this regard, African governments have become increasingly aware of the importance of developing capacity to promote trade and attract investments for Africa to participate more effectively in the global economy and to reap the full benefits of globalization. The paper discusses the role SSC can play in these efforts to ramp up African trade and related investments. Learn more and access publication here.

Trade Integration and South-South Cooperation: How Digitalization Matters in Africa

Authors: Professor Myriam Ramzy & Professor Chahir Zaki, Cairo University

This paper investigates the importance of digitalization in fostering trade integration among Southern economies with an emphasis on intra-African trade. As the global economy experiences important changes brought about by digital technologies, South-South cooperation in a digitalized world presents new opportunities for—and areas of—cooperation among Southern countries. Many of these new opportunities have the potential to stimulate national and regional efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Hence, the aim of the paper is threefold. First, the authors examine why digitalization matters for trade in Africa and for the South-South cooperation. Second, the authors highlight how the scope, or the composition of trade is affected by digitalization. Third, the authors present the main challenges and opportunities that digitalization could possibly present for South-South integration with a special emphasis on Intra-African trade. The paper shows that digitalization is helping African countries with trade integration and is boosting South-South cooperation.  Learn more and access publication here.

South-South Cooperation and Financial Technology in a Globally-Inclusive Economic Architecture

Author: Professor Nir Kshetri, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

This paper examines how recent advances in computing and telecommunications technologies are promoting financial inclusion in the Global South by dramatically transforming the way the financial industry operates. The emergence of financial technology (FinTech) companies based in the Global South and their roles in promoting financial inclusion in their respective regions is discussed. A key emphasis of the paper is internationalization of Southern-based FinTech companies and evolving South-South Cooperation in the FinTech arena.

Special consideration is given to the use of Big Data in assessing, evaluating and refining the creditworthiness of potential borrowers as a crucial mechanism underlying this transformation. Various categories of personal financial and non-financial information being used by Big Data companies as proxy measures for a potential borrower’s identity, ability to repay and willingness to repay are explored. The paper hopes to advance the understanding of how artificial intelligence (AI) applications have transformed the financial industry landscape. Another theme of the paper is the potential role of blockchain-based financial technologies and cryptocurrencies to improve access to and affordability of financial services for low-income people and small businesses. Learn more and access publication here.


Stay tuned for the upcoming launch of the below three South-South Ideas Papers and one Scoping Paper between April and May 2021 through a series of video interviews with the respective authors. 

  • South-South Global Thinkers Scoping Paper: South-South Cooperation and Investment in Africa: Implications of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement. Author: Dr. Hany Besada, Senior Research and Program Advisor, UNOSSC
  • Trade and Investment Capacity Building through South-South Cooperation: Lessons from Supporting Indian Trade and Investment for Africa. Author: Ms. Vandana Prakash Nair, Consultant, International Trade Centre 
  • From Trilemma to Triple Wins: Creating Synergies among Chinese Labour-intensive Manufacturers, Global Buyers and Low-wage Southern Countries. Authors: Professors Wen Chen, Jiajun Xu and Jia Yu, Institute of New Structural Economics, Peking University
  • The Link Between Trade and Inequality: A Review of the Literature and Emerging Research Agenda from the Perspective of South-South Cooperation. Author: Professor Milindo Chakrabarti, Research Information System for Developing Countries