South – South Cooperation

South-South Cooperation has been highlighted as a priority by Prime Minister and India’s Foreign Minister during India’s G20 Presidency.

  • South-South cooperation refers to collaboration among countries of the South (Developing and Least Developed Countries) in all domains, including economic, political, cultural, environmental and technical.
  • The division of “North” and “South” is used to refer to the social, economic and political differences that exist between developed countries (North) and developing countries (South).
  • It should be noted that the division is not faithful to the actual geographical division. A country is defined as North or South not by location but depending on certain economic factors and the quality of life of its population.


  • Innovative forms of knowledge exchange, technology transfer, emergency response and recovery of livelihoods led by the South are transforming lives.
  • Countries of South have contributed to more than half of world’s economic growth in recent years.
  • Intra-south trade is higher than ever, accounting for more than a quarter of all world trade.
  • Outflows of foreign direct investment from the South represent a third of the global flows.
  • Remittances from migrant workers to low- and middle income countries reached 786 billion dollars last year, which helped lift millions of families out of poverty.
  • Ambitious and transformational 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development cannot be achieved without the ideas, energy and tremendous ingenuity of the countries of the Global South.


  • Stronger countries in South could not refrain from temptation of taking advantage of weaker partners. China has especially been a consistent perpetrator.
  • Extraction of natural resources with disregard for environment and implications to public health has been an accustomed practice of many international oil companies.
  • Some countries misuse the principle of lack of conditionality by asking for financial assistance under pretext of implementing some socially impactful project but appropriate it for devious projects.
  • Principle of non-interference serves as a limitation. In unwavering obedience to this principle, the focus of countries like India and China is on doing business with little regard for local-internal conflict.
  • North-oriented mindset and traditional vertical links with metropoles and the world still dominated by US hegemony.
  • Mutual suspicions and rivalries, including between bigger and smaller states and lack of experience in working together and low-level administrative barriers.
  • Global South is not a coherent group and does not have a single shared agenda. There is differentiation within the South today in terms of wealth and power, needs and capabilities.
  • Collective institutions created to voice concerns of Global South such as Non-Aligned Movement and New International Economic Order have been largely rendered dysfunctional.
  • Strong regional competition and opposition among countries of global south.
  • Lack of financial capacity among countries of Global South. INDIA’S EFFORT


  • With impressive growth and greater openness in recent years, India has become a key player in the global economy.
  • India’s trade and investment policies increasingly affect global growth and development prospects, be it through the supply of generic medicines to African countries or expansion of trade and investment, including access to markets in India.
  • During Covid-19 Pandemic, India began VACCINE MAITRI campaign, at a time when much more advance and better-placed countries of the north fell short of their promises.
  • India’s growing economic power is changing the dynamics of global economic governance. Within World Trade Organisation, (demand for TRIPS waiver) its profile and influence have risen dramatically over the last decade. India positions itself as the voice of developing countries in global trade talks
  • India’s economic footprint is extended through the activities undertaken by its government institutions. Through its lines of credit program, the Indian Government helps facilitate economic flows to other countries.
  • India’s technical support, training and institutional support through its ITEC (India Technical and Economic Cooperation) program and technology transfers, are much valued by low-income countries. India’s positioning as a strong ‘knowledge partner’ adds significant value to its relationships with other developing countries
  • India has consistently expanded its development cooperation portfolio through grant assistance to Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal and Sri Lanka, for projects in infrastructure, hydroelectricity, power transmission and other sectors identified by the host Governments as priority areas for the development of their countries.
  • India is actively pushing for the cause of countries of global south and particularly that of Least developed countries in the field of climate change and championing the cause of common but differentiated responsibility.
  • India has also set up India-UN Development Partnership Fund for championing greater partnerships. ($150 Mn).


  • India’s objective should not be to rebuild a global trade union among the South and extract best deal from advanced countries most favourable for South.
  • India should be eager to become a bridge between the North and South by focusing on practical outcomes rather than returning to old ideological battles.
  • India has often portrayed itself as a “Southwestern power” that is capable of building deep partnerships with the US and Europe and at the same time, championing the interests of the Global South.
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