South-South Ideas: Digital Trade Integration – The Role of South-South and Triangular Cooperation

Sep 12, 2022 | Publications, Research, South-South Ideas

This research work was carried out with financial and scientific support from the UNOSSC and UNDP under the ‘South-South Global Thinkers – the Global Coalition of Think Tank Networks for SSC’ initiative. The paper is authored by Dr. Vaqar Ahmed, Joint Executive Director, and Mr.  Maaz Javed of Sustainable Development Policy Institute.


The COVID-19 pandemic has generated an urgency to look at digital trade integration as a measure that could help governments and the public pivot better. For example, improvements in digital connectivity at home and across borders are helping trading firms cut their costs and enhance export volumes, which in turn positively impacts job market outcomes. Common and harmonized rules to assist cross-border digital trade, especially a provision creating a trusted environment for digital exchanges, provide swift and timely knowledge-sharing. These potential benefits are sometimes also overlooked by governments due to perceived online security threats and high costs associated with the mitigation of such risks.

This report provides recommendations on exploring the potential ways in which South-South and Triangular cooperation could help digital trade integration. In that regard, the authors have examined bilateral and multilateral cooperation in South Asia and how such cooperative arrangements help the digital trade integration process. They have studied the current state of digital trade in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. A review of provisions in domestic policies related to digital trade integration and the impact of digital platforms has been conducted for these countries.