Let trade run free. Tie your currency to the U.S. dollar. Align your foreign policy with America’s. The U.S. and its Western partners wrote these economic rules, a cornerstone of the world order prevailing since World War II. Now developing countries, often called the Global South, are quietly revising them.

The Global South sees a chance to chart its own future. Nirupama Menon Rao, a former Indian foreign secretary, points to her country’s spreading of digital payments to developing nations. "India’s outreach to countries in the Global South has been successful,” the onetime ambassador to the U.S. said in June.

Developing nations are demanding control of their resources, reordering a relationship from colonial times, in part by insisting on factories in their own countries. Joining Namibia and Zimbabwe, Ghana is preparing to ban exports of lithium — essential for electric vehicles. Indonesia prohibited the export of nickel ores.