unctad.org | Multi-year expert meeting on international cooperation: South–South cooperation and regional integration (third session)
Multi-year expert meeting on international cooperation: South–South cooperation and regional integration (third session)
23 - 25 February 2011
Room XXVI, Palais des Nations

Key Issues

Using South–South linkages to build productive capacities in developing countries

There is a growing interest among policy makers, at both the national and international levels, in rethinking development strategy around the challenge of building productive capacities.

The concept carries a certain amount of analytical fuzziness but essentially highlights the critical interactions between capital accumulation, economic diversification and technological upgrading in promoting catch-up growth and structural transformation in developing countries.

From a policy perspective, the concept of productive capacities shifts the discussion from a narrow market-based focus on short-term allocative efficiency to dynamic and long-term changes at the firm and sectoral levels which can support rising productivity and living standards at the national level.

This discussion has often polarized between those in favour and those against the state "picking winners". This distorts the actual role of industrial policy in the development process and ignores how successful developing countries have used sectoral policies in combination with macro, trade and labour market policies in their development strategy.

For most developing countries, building productive capacities is closely linked to their participation in the international division of labour. But much like the industrial policy debate, this has also led to polarized policy positions between those in favour of import substitution industrialization and those calling for rapid opening up to international market competition.

This polarized choice set also distorts the actual experience with successful experiences of integration in to the global economy and simplifies the policy challenges involved in maximizing the gains from external integration.

The real challenge for developing countries from this perspective is how to use trade, investment and technology flows to support strong productivity growth, increased productive employment, and rising real wages without generating external imbalances and distortions that could upset the catch-up process.

This challenge has been met with different degrees of success in different parts of the developing world during the past two decades. Particularly in East Asia this challenge has been successfully managed in the context of strong regional linkages. However, other regions have struggled to replicate this experience. The emergence of new growth poles in the South has revived interest in regional arrangements and mechanisms in the areas of trade and finance.

To date the implications and opportunities for the productive economy have been less thoroughly explored.


The expert meeting will explore these issues in the context of growing economic linkages among developing countries and consider how south south cooperation can ensure these linkages complement efforts to build productive capabilities in countries with different initial endowments, institutional histories and policy capacities.

The meeting will provide a forum to:

  • Present good practice and compare notes on innovative approaches in critical policy areas.

  • Review issues and challenges to policy design at the national and international levels.

  • Identify opportunities to further inter-agency collaboration, knowledge-sharing and policy debate.

Inputs from experts

Experts nominated by member States are encouraged to submit brief papers (approximately five pages) as contributions to the work of the meeting.

The papers will be made available at the meeting in the form and language in which they are received.

Papers should be submitted by 9 February 2011

E-mail: piergiuseppe.fortunato@unctad.org



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The Multi-year Expert Meeting on International Cooperation: South-South Cooperation and Regional Integration will be held on 23-25 February 2011. It will be opened at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 23 February 2011, in room XXVI of the Palais des Nations.


Member States of UNCTAD are requested to nominate experts at an early date and not later than 9 February 2011.

Experts, who will participate in the meeting in their personal capacities, are expected to have proven expertise in the subject, and may be selected from government, academia, the private sector, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Experts, including those from international and regional organizations dealing with issues related to the topic, may be invited as resource persons.

Specialized agencies and intergovernmental bodies wishing to participate in the meeting, as well as NGOs in the general category and those in the special category wishing to participate as observers, are requested to inform the UNCTAD secretariat of the names of their representatives by 9 February 2011.

Financial assistance

Depending on the availability of funding in the Trust Fund for Financing the Participation of Experts at the time, funds may be made available to finance the participation of a limited number of officially nominated experts from developing countries and countries with economies in transition. Governments requiring funding are therefore invited to explicitly request financing in their letters of nomination.

The decision as to which experts should receive financing will be based on the principle of equitable geographical representation; the needs of beneficiaries, in particular LDCs; and the expertise of the experts concerned. Changes to the experts nominated will be considered as new nominations.

Nominations with requests for financing should be received no later than 15 January 2011, and should be accompanied by the following information about the nominee:

  • Curriculum vitae
  • Mailing address
  • Telephone and fax number
  • E-mail address; and
  • Name of a contact person in the Permanent Mission in Geneva

It should be noted in this connection that, once the list of experts to be financed has been finalized, all travel arrangements will be made in accordance with United Nations rules and regulations, although use of the least costly fare will be authorized.

Background documents and contributed papers

The provisional agenda for the meeting, together with the secretariat´s annotations thereto, is being circulated as document TD/B/C.II/MEM.2/7. In order to facilitate the discussion, the UNCTAD secretariat is preparing a background document that will be circulated as TD/B/C.II/MEM.2/8.

Experts are encouraged to prepare and submit brief papers related to their studies, findings and/or country´s experience. These papers will be made available to the meeting in the form and language in which they are received.


The meeting will take place at the United Nations Office at Geneva, Palais des Nations. Simultaneous interpretation will be provided in the six official languages of the United Nations.

Upon arrival, participants are requested, before entering the Palais des Nations, to collect their badges at the United Nations Security Service, Pregny Gate entrance, 14 Avenue de la Paix. The Security Service is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (non-stop). Because of the security measures in force, participants are strongly advised to arrive before 9 a.m. in order to complete entry procedures in good time, and to proceed to the meeting, in the E building (bâtiment E) of the Palais. Participants are requested to carry a passport or similar national identity card with them. Taxis are not allowed to enter the grounds of the Palais des Nations, and visitors will therefore be dropped off at the requested entrance gates. Furthermore, luggage may not be brought into the buildings unless the Security Service gives special clearance.

Further information and contact details

Nominations and related communications concerning representation at the meeting should be sent to the UNCTAD secretariat, Intergovernmental Support Service, Palais des Nations, CH-1211 Geneva 10; fax: +41 22 917 0214; e-mail: meetings@unctad.org.

All other enquiries should be addressed to Mr. Richard Kozul-Wright, Palais des Nations, CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland; fax: +41 22 917 0044; e-mail: richard.kozul-wright@unctad.org or candy.catala@unctad.org.


Supachai Panitchpakdi
Secretary-General of UNCTAD
4 January 2011


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