The Boston University Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future held an all-day conference on ‘The Future of South-South Economic Relations‘ as part of its Africa 2060 program of research. The conference was held on Friday, September 25, 2010 at the Hariri Building (BU School of Management) and brought together experts from a variety of fields and from across the world and an audience of some 45 to discuss different aspects of the changing landscape and the emerging dynamics of economic – and especially trade – relations amongst developing countries. The conference was preceded by a welcome reception for conference presenters on Thursday, September 24.
The conference began with welcome comments from the two conveners of the conference – Pardee Center Director, Prof. Adil Najam, and Pardee Center Research Fellow Rachel Thrasher. The conference was part of a larger book project of the Pardee Center and papers presented in this experts conference will be collected into an edited book on the subject, expected to be published in 2011.
The first panel was chaired by Prof. Adil Najam (Boston University). Kathryn Hochstetler from the University of Waterloo presented her paper on the emerging and likely impacts of increased South-South trade on the environment; the paper from Mariana Rangel Padilla from the Tecnológico de Monterrey in Mexico focused on foreign direct investment (FDI) from developing countries and the patterns in which they are distributed around the world, including to other developing countries; and Alcides Costa Vaz from the University of Brasilia presented on the role of key emerging economies, including on the political aspects and explanations for the emerging trends. All three papers focused particularly on Brazil, although also on other development countries more generally.
The second panel of the day was chaired by Prof. Strom Thacker of the Boston University Department of International Relations and included two papers focusing on Asia and a presentation on the South-South negotiation dynamics within the World Trade Organization (WTO). The presenters included Nagesh Kumar, Chief Economist at the United Nations Economic Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP), who looked at Asian trade and economic integration and identified key current and future trends; Shaheen Rafi Khan from the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) who looked at the impacts of South-South trade on conflicts by focusing on South Asia; and Rachel Thrasher from the BU Pardee Center who looked at the emerging trends of South-South negotiation cooperation in multilateral institutions, especially in the WTO. While the papers on Asian trade integration and on the WTO suggested trends of increasing South-South cooperation, the paper focusing on South Asia suggested that it is much more likely that conflict reduction will lead to trade enhancement, rather than the other way round.
The third panel, post-lunch, met with Prof. Ann Helwege (Boston University, International Relations Department) as the Chair and included three papers that looked at the increasingly complex regional trade arrangements in Africa, in Latin America and in the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council. The first presentation was from Laura Gomez-Mera, from the University of Miami, who focused on the trade arrangements within and with Latin America. She noted a sharp increase in the vitality and scope of these arrangements. Eric K Ogunleye from the African Centre for Economic Transformation (ACET) presented his paper on regional trade arrangements in Africa and argued that while the picture was complex and multi-layered, he felt that the prospects for the future were bright. This was followed by the final paper in this panel was presented by Nader Habibi from Brandeis University who focused on the trade relations between the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) with ‘ChIndia’ (China and India) and showed how these have recently begun to spike.
The final panel of the conference was chaired by Prof. Stefania Garetto from the Boston University Department of Economics. The panel focused on China’s key role in increasing South-South economic interaction. The first paper in teh panel was presented by Kevin Gallagher, from Boston University, who looked at trade relations between China and Latin America and demonstrated how China’s share of trade with Latin America has grown exponentially. He argued that this growth has been much more strategically advantageous to China, than to Latin America. The second paper on this panel was from Mehdi Shafaeddin, from the University of Neuchatel, who looked at the argument for ‘South-South’ trade and then also at China as a unique actor in South-South interactions. The final paper of the day was presented by Shaun Breslin, from the University of Warwick, who looked in detail at how China views its own political and economic interests abroad in the light of its own image of itself.