This paper investigates the trade competitiveness of the new emerging Southern economies – China, India, Brazil and South Africa (CIBS) – with respect to their main global partners. Starting from the commonly held view that countries with trade patterns similar to those of emerging countries are likely to suffer losses, we propose a multidimensional approach based on cluster analysis, both crisp and fuzzy, as an alternative strategy for assessing similarity in global trade patterns. On the basis of key trade characteristics drawn from the diverse strands of trade theory, we assess the relative position of CIBS within global trade patterns and their evolution over time. Unlike previous studies, our results do not support the hypothesis of the presence of a competitiveness threat from Southern emerging countries towards the main industrialised economies.
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