April 20, 2005, New Delhi, Press Release

CUTS Centre for International Trade, Economics and Environment (CUTS-CITEE), a Jaipur-based non-governmental group working on South-South cooperation has urged Afro-Asian leaders meeting in Bandung, Indonesia from April 22 to take concrete measures to foster closer economic ties between these continents. This summit of more than 100 countries is being held to mark the 50th anniversary of the Bandung Summit, which was the genesis of South-South cooperation through Non-aligned Movement (NAM).

According to Bipul Chatterjee, director of CUTS-CITEE: “Any meaningful cooperation between countries is based on a critical minimum trade and investment relationship. African and Asian countries can learn from each other’s knowledge and experience in a better manner as many of them are at a similar level of development, facing similar problems.”

Such cooperation should take into account the targets set by the United Nations to achieve Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the year 2015. Other than halving poverty one of the MDGs (the Goal 8) requires countries to enhance “global partnership for development”. “50 Years of Bandung should make specific recommendations for partnership, not only among the African and Asian countries but also with inter-governmental agencies such as the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and with non-governmental bodies,” Chatterjee added.

Last year, CUTS-CITEE organised an Afro-Asian civil society seminar entitled “From Cancún to São Paulo: The Role of Civil Society in the International Trading System”. One of the recommendations of this seminar was: “Poor knowledge about the potentiality of products and services produced in the developing and least developed countries is an area, which needs targeted intervention. Several southern products are as competitive as those being produced in the industrialised countries but developing and least developed countries lack the additional technical and financial inputs to engage in global marketing and distribution. Hence, most consumers are unaware of such products.” “The ‘50 Years of Bandung’ declaration should strive to create a fund to enhance trade between Afro-Asian countries. This fund can be similar to the ‘Market Access Initiative’ of the Government of India,” Chatterjee concluded.