Slower economic growth since 2008, and especially with the commodity price collapse since the end of last year, threatens to reverse the exceptional half-decade before the financial crash when growth in the South stayed ahead of the North. From 2002, many developing countries – including some of the poorest– had been growing much faster after a quarter century of stagnation in Africa, for example.
In the 1960s, there were high hopes for the development of the newly-independent sub-Saharan African countries but these hopes were quickly dashed following a series of shocks which began in the mid-70s, with the first oil price spikes, followed by a severe decline in growth and increase in poverty in the 80s and early 90s.
In the past 15 years, China has gone from being a relatively insignificant economic partner in Latin America to the number-one trading partner of some of the largest economies in the region.
For decades, commodity trade has been understood from the point of view of “commodity dependent” exporting countries, those whose revenues are largely generated by commodities exports. The trend of decreasing agricultural commodity prices was the focus of attention. However, from the beginning of the 2000s, there was an upward trend in agricultural commodity prices culminating in the price peak of 2007-08.