The combined output of China, Brazil and India - the three largest developing nations - has come close to the total GDP of the traditional industrial powers including the US, United Kingdom, France, Germany and Italy for the first time in 150 years and will overtake them soon, a UN report says yesterday.
The UN Development Programme's 2013 Human Development report also said much of the future growth of these emerging economies were to be driven by trade and technology exchanges between them - a departure from the past when developing nations rely on rich countries for capital and know-how.
The report said these emerging countries were now becoming the breeding ground for technical innovation and creative enterprises comparable to the traditional powers. Poor African nations are increasingly turning to the likes of China and India for technology and investment.
The developing countries - called the global south in the UN report as most of them located in the southern hemisphere - will also become the main consumer markets. The middle class in China, Brazil and India is growing at an unprecedented speed and scale. The proportion of the world's middle class living in developing nations more than doubled between 1990 and 2000.
The ratio was expected to reach more than 80 per cent by 2030, the report said. Middle-class people living in "the global south" will account for 70 per cent of total international consumer spending by that year.
"When developed economies stopped growing during the 2008-09 financial crisis, developing economies kept on growing, the world took notice … The rise of the south is unprecedented in its speed and scale. When dozens of countries and billions of people move up the development ladder, as they are doing today, it has a direct impact on wealth creation and broader human progress in all countries and regions of the world," wrote Helen Clark, administrator of the UN Development Programme.
"The pace of change is slower in most of the 49 least developed countries, especially those that are landlocked or distant from world markets," it said.
Links between developing nations are growing. From 1980 to 2011, trade between developing nations as a share of world trade rose from 8.1 to 26.7 per cent.
"Capital goods such as electrical machinery, nuclear reactors and boilers dominated India's imports from China (60 per cent) and cost an estimated 30 per cent less than if they had been sourced from richer countries," it said.