With Protectionism Rising, South-South Trade Retrenches

With Protectionism Rising, South-South Trade Retrenches

Robust economic growth proved to be elusive in the U.S. and Europe over the past decade, but that certainly was not the case across Asia, Africa and Latin America. From 2003 to 2007, developing countries averaged 7.2 percent in annual economic growth. Further indications that developing economies had effectively delinked from the West came in 2010, when dozens of developing countries recovered to near-record rates of growth while the United States and Europe remained hamstrung by financial and debt crises.

China’s rapid industrialization triggered much of this expansion by driving up global commodity prices. In sourcing commodities from other developing nations, China forged a new channel of global commerce, often referred to as South-South trade, that is the strongest proof yet of the emergence of a “post-American world.”

The volume of South-South trade is expected to double by 2030, by which time it will comprise more than one-quarter of global commerce. According to forecasts by the United Nations, multinationals and investment banks, the global economy will develop along several lines moving forward. India will eventually emerge as a piston of growth nearly as powerful as present-day China. Trade within Latin America and Africa is expected to surge, as higher long-distance transport costs, improved internal infrastructure and the rise of the global middle class foster the sort of intraregional bonds that have long been neglected. And developing nations will help lead the charge for sustainable development, including novel renewable energy and micro-lending programs.

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