Since early 2000, the pace and scope of globalization has been unprecedented. Integral to
the expansion of global trade and investment fl ows has been the rise of the dynamic South – a new
breed of dynamically growing developing countries taking a more signifi cant place in world trade
and investment. This phenomenon has also led to a rapid expansion in trade among developing
countries – South-South trade – especially in Asia.
The emergence of the dynamic South and the spectacular growth of South-South trade and
investment fl ows – now seen as a corner stone of the new trade geography – present an important
window of opportunity for all countries, regardless of their level of development. South-South
regional trade agreements (RTAs), including bilateral, regional and interregional free trade
agreements (FTAs), form part of an array of important instruments for trade creation, investment
and regional development.
Policymakers in developing countries are increasingly giving priority attention to enhancing
South-South trade through regional and interregional cooperation arrangements. In this context, the
experience of Asia, where about 85 per cent of total South-South trade in goods is now concentrated,
can be considered as of practical value and holds lessons for other developing countries and
The publication South-South Trade in Asia: The Role of Regional Trade Agreements seeks
to provide policymakers and decision-makers in government and in the private sector with an indepth
analysis of the dynamic trends of South-South trade in Asia and rapidly evolving RTAs in
the region, including analysis of their scope and coverage, their impacts on global and regional
production strategies, and assessment of their contribution to South-South trade growth in Asia.
This collaborative project between UNCTAD and JETRO is aimed at responding to the needs
of not only policymakers, but also the private sector, particularly in developing countries. We, in
UNCTAD, hope that this publication will open the way for further cooperation and collaboration
on South-South trade.
Lastly, I would like to express my special appreciation to JETRO for its effective cooperation
and support in this joint endeavour.
Secretary-General of UNCTAD