Mapping the way forward for South-South
Ever since the world came to recognize the inevitable rise of the once impoverished Asia and Latin America in the global trade and development setup, South-South has become a global buzzword.
The meteoric rise of the Global South, either in terms of trade or in terms of human development, is now being accompanied by increased calls for better collaboration within these emerging nations.
Amid such a vivid global discourse about the nature of the shift in balance from the waning North to the developing South; a Dhaka workshop this week has made a timely call for setting up the right policy framework for making the Cooperation within the Southern nations truly effective for international trade and development.
There is a pressing need for a policy framework for South-South Cooperation, Triangular Cooperation and Knowledge Sharing, experts and dignitaries said at the workshop, adding that such framework “would guide our overall action and ensures coherence and complementarity between the many areas of south-south engagement”.
The Economic Relations Division of the government organized the event with support from the multi -donor funded Aid Effectiveness Project to take stock ahead of the upcoming High Level Meeting on Global Partnership to take place in April in Mexico.
Honorable Finance Minister of the Government of Bangladesh Mr. AMA Muhith inaugurated the workshop as chief guest while State Minister for Finance Mr. M A Mannan and UNDP Country Director in Bangladesh Ms. Pauline Tamesis were also present during the opening session as special guests.
Cabinet Secretary to the government of Bangladesh Mr. M Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan attended the closing session as chief guest while ERD Secretary Mr. Mohammad Mejbahuddin chaired both the opening and closing session of the event.
“The recent crisis has shifted the center of gravity of the world economy to Asia, it is time to look at South-South Cooperation more closely as much of Asia belongs to the global South” Finance Minister AMA Muhith said in his speech.
“Also, as Bangladesh is aiming to attain middle income status by the year 2021, it is time to contemplate how much we can gain from SSC modality to that end”, he added.
It might be mentioned here that ‘South-South cooperation, Triangular Cooperation and Knowledge-Sharing’ was selected as one of the five themes to be discussed in the upcoming High Level Meeting on Global Partnership to be held in April in Mexico.
In this context, the workshop was organized to diagnose the current practices of South-South and Triangular Cooperation and Knowledge sharing in Bangladesh. It aimed to analyze how South-South Cooperation can be done more effectively and to increase its impact on development. It also sought to identify good examples and practices which could be emulated.
Speaking at the occasion, State Minister for Finance M A Mannan said, “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”.
“One of the great advantages of South-South Cooperation is the similarities in contexts among the southern countries which make their ideas, concepts and technologies easier to contextualize among themselves”, Cabinet Secretary M Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan said during the workshop.
ERD Secretary Mejbahuddin in his speech stressed on appropriate institutional framework, capacity of coordination, political will and strong partnership between countries and relevant stakeholders as major preconditions for effective cooperation within the Global South.
“Global South is not synonymous to recipients or recipient countries; rather the South is a key source of resources of knowledge, capacity, experiences and references for the world to benefit from”, said UNDP Country Director in Bangladesh Ms. Paulin Tamesis.
Recommendations coming from this workshop are expected to provide input for the aforementioned upcoming High Level Meeting in Mexico as well as for the Foreign Assistance Policy of Bangladesh that is now under formulation.
There is a better scope for tapping into the market of emerging economies through export diversification both in terms of products and destinations, the discussants said during the event, adding that better connectivity with the countries in South Asia and South East Asian region can facilitate such increased trade and can place Bangladesh at the center of global trade due to its locational advantage as it sits between two giant Asian neighbors.
Eminent economist and the Rector of Dhaka School of Economics Dr. Q K Ahmad, Secretary, Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment Dr. Zafar Ahmed Khan, Member of Planning Commission Professor Dr. Shamsul Alam, ERD Additional Secretary Mr. Md. Ashadul Islam, Mr. Mohammad Asif-uz-Zaman and Mr. Arastoo Khan, ERD Joint Secretary Mr. Muhammad Alkama Siddiqui and Ms. Nurjahan Begum, ndc, First Vice President of FBCCI Ms. Monowara Hakim Ali, President of BGMEA Mr. Md. Atiqul Islam, CEO of Bangladesh Association for International Recruitment Agencies (BAIRA) Shahjalal Majumder and CEO of Bangladesh Foreign Trade Institute (BFTI) Dr. Md. Mozibur Rahman among others were also present at the event.
There were a number of working sessions in the workshop dealing with the current state of South-South and Triangular Cooperation and Knowledge Sharing in Bangladesh, scope of trade as well as skills development and overseas employment opportunities for Bangladesh with its Southern partner countries and also for analyzing the comparative advantages of the Southern assistance comparing to Northern ones.
Ambassadors and representatives from various embassies and high commissions like India, China, Republic of Korea and Denmark, representatives from bilateral and multilateral agencies; representatives and dignitaries from various business chambers and trade associations and high officials from various government ministries including ERD attended the event.