Bangladesh has immense potential to enhance trade among the developing countries by focusing on information technology, renewable energy and creative industries, analysts said yesterday.
“We can promote our creative industries, such as software, computer games, crafts, design and advertising with South-South Cooperation,” said Md Ashadul Islam, additional secretary of Economic Relations Division.
Preferential trade agreements, such as SAFTA, removing trade barriers by India, Chinese soft loans for infrastructure development and $800 million credit from India are some examples in South-South cooperation, he added.
He spoke at a workshop organised by Economic Relations Division on effective south-south triangular cooperation in Dhaka.
South-South Cooperation is a term historically used by policymakers and academics to describe the exchange of resources, technology, and knowledge between developing countries, also known as countries of the global south.
South-South trades have immense potential due to the shifting of economic, political and social aspects to Asia, said UNDP Country Director Pauline Tamesis.
“Emerging economies are growing, while the growth of developed countries is slowing,” said Tamesis, adding that South-South Cooperation is not a substitute of North-South trade, rather it compliments global trade. “The recent economic crisis has shifted the centre of gravity to Asia. Therefore, it is time to strengthen South-South Cooperation,” said Finance Minister AMA Muhith.
The minister however stressed the need for strong coordination among the countries to address bottlenecks in cooperation among the nations.
"The real problem in South-South Cooperation is of course, coordination. I believe the development partners can contribute richly in this regard.”
State Minister for Finance MA Mannan said Bangladesh is planning to become a mid-income country by 2021 and its cooperation with neighbouring countries of the South and development partners in the North is vital.
“We believe in South-South Cooperation for better synergies, and we need to increase the effectiveness of both aid and trade in delivering the goals of development in the South.”
Referring to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's vision to become a developed country by 2041, the state minister said attaining the target is possible if there is political stability and realistic foreign policies.
Such cooperation touches many areas, such as employment, trade, skills development, technical assistance and knowledge sharing, said ERD Secretary Mohammad Mejbahuddin.
Trade under such initiatives occurs in many forms, such as bilateral, multilateral, regional, sub-regional and triangular, he added.
Some barriers include weak institutional framework, a lack of capacity to articulate the needs of the beneficiary countries and resource sharing arrangements, he said.
Mejbahuddin stressed the need for political commitment, broad-based partnerships, and involvement of the private sector and civil society alongside the government to bring momentum in such initiatives.
Political challenges are impeding trade relations in many aspects. “There is a need to ensure that different kinds of cooperation are delivered in a synergic manner to ensure national development.”