Asia-Pacific, Development & Aid, Economy & Trade, Global, Global Geopolitics, Global Governance, Headlines, IPS UN: Inside the Glasshouse

DEVELOPMENT: China, India Lead South-South Cooperation

Thalif Deen

UNITED NATIONS, Nov 24 2009 (IPS) - China and India have been singled out as two countries that have established vibrant economic and financial links with the developing world and played key roles in strengthening South-South cooperation over the last 10 years.

The two Asian economic powerhouses are “in a category of their own because of the scale and diversity of their South-South cooperation agendas”, says a new U.N. study released here.

Both countries, the report points out, “have ongoing technical assistance initiatives that cover almost all areas of interest to other developing countries, and both have, in the last decade, taken to underpinning technical assistance with financial support”.

India has spent a cumulative 2.0 billion dollars on its technical assistance programme: about 40 percent on education and training; another 40 percent on projects and project-related advisory services; and 20 percent on study tours, cultural exchanges and disaster relief.

The 26-page report, described as a 30-year perspective of South-South cooperation, points out that China has extended billions of dollars in commercial and concessional loans to African countries to develop and bring to market a range of agricultural and mineral commodities.

The report, which will go before a major international conference on South-South cooperation in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi Dec. 1-3, points out that “this century has witnessed the ascent of developing countries to positions of greater influence on the world stage”.

Other key players in South-South cooperation include Brazil, South Africa, Venezuela, Indonesia, Malaysia and Nigeria, among many others.

A plan of action, to be adopted at the Nairobi conference next week, emphasises that “South-South cooperation needs additional and innovative financing from U.N. funds and programmes and other multilateral organizations”.

The proposed action plan – formally called the ‘outcome document’ – calls upon the governing bodies of the U.N. system “to allocate additional resources to supporting this form of cooperation” and urges them to devise and use innovative financing mechanisms to support South-South cooperation.

Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao announced recently that his country would double low-interest loans to Africa, from 5.0 billion dollars to 10 billion dollars over the next three years.

In 2000, the Chinese government reduced or forgave one billion dollars in debt incurred by the least developed countries (LDCs), described as the poorest of the world’s poor.

By the end of the first quarter of 2009, China had exempted 150 matured debts owed by 32 countries.

Last year, the total trade between China and Africa amounted to over 106 billion dollars, an increase of 45 percent over the previous year.

And China’s imports from Africa amounted 56 billion dollars, an increase of 54 percent over the previous year.

Addressing a U.N. meeting on the implementation of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) last month, Chinese Ambassador Liu Zhenmin said, “In the future, China will provide further assistance and support to African countries in areas such as agriculture, education, health, medical care and clean energy.”

“We will also continue to support African countries in their conflict prevention and settlement, and peace building endeavours,” he declared.

Dr. Shashi Tharoor, India’s minister of state for external affairs, told IPS that India places high priority on South-South cooperation and will take an active role in the upcoming meeting in Nairobi.

“While we would not project the conference as a solution to the global financial crisis, we do believe that South-South cooperation will provide additional assistance and support to affected developing countries,” he noted.

Tharoor said India has so far extended over 3.0 billion dollars in concessional lines of credit to countries in Africa.

During the India-Africa Forum Summit, India also decided to enhance the available concessional lines of credit for Africa to 5.4 billion dollars for the next five years.

Addressing the General Assembly last month, Tharoor said India has been actively engaged with NEPAD since the very beginning.

The First India-Africa Forum Summit held in Delhi in April 2008 was a major milestone in India’s engagement with Africa. The Delhi Declaration and the Africa-India Framework for Cooperation were adopted during the Summit.

The Pan African E-network project that seeks to bridge the ‘digital divide’ between Africa and the rest of the world is one of the most far-reaching initiatives undertaken by India, Tharoor said.

Already 42 countries have joined this programme, which is intended to provide digital information services with priority on tele-education and tele-medicine services and VVIP connectivity by satellite and fibre optic network amongst the heads of state of all 53 countries.

The project would provide major benefits to Africa in capacity-building through skill and knowledge development of students, medical specialists and for medical consultation, he added.

The Africa-India Framework for Cooperation, launched last year, includes capacity building programmes for medical and health specialists to tackle pandemics like malaria, filarial, polio, HIV and TB.

Republish | | Print |

Related Tags