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Brown pushes for bad trade deal
27 November 2006
A new push for free trade led by the UK Chancellor Gordon Brown and his US counterpart Hank Paulson will threaten many of the world's poorest people with deeper poverty and environmental degradation, Friends of the Earth warned today. The UK Chancellor and US Treasury Secretary are scheduled to meet tomorrow to discuss how to revive the stalled World Trade Organisation talks.
In an article in the Wall Street Journal, the two men urge the case for free trade and claim that free trade is the only way out of poverty for developing countries.
Friends of the Earth's Trade Campaigner Joe Zacune said:
"The UK and US Governments' rationale for kick-starting world trade talks is critically flawed as the evidence shows that the poor and their environment are set to lose out if they sign up to current proposals. By exposing infant industry and farmers in developing countries to unfair competition from powerful multinational companies - farmers will be driven off their land and a process of de-industrialisation set in motion.
"The proposals on the table would also open up markets for non-agricultural products such as forests and fish - threatening the natural resources that millions of people depend upon for their daily survival. The Chancellor seems to be more interested in protecting European business interests than tackling poverty."
Recent statements from the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation and the European Commission's own impact assessment report along with other studies  show that the current trade agenda is working against the needs of poor communities, many of whom depend on natural resources for their livelihoods.
 Institute for Development Policy and Management, University of Manchester, "EU Sustainability Impact Assessment of Proposed WTO Negotiations: Final Report", July 2006
UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, "New focus needed for Doha Round: Trade talks failed to address developing country problems", August 2006 www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2006/1000375/index.html
K. Gallagher, Boston University and T. Wise, Tufts University, "Doha Round and Developing Countries: Will the Doha deal do more harm than good?", April 2006
A study by the World Bank's Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) from March 2006 concluded that the World Bank's strategies on trade have not delivered on employment and poverty reduction. www.worldbank.org/ieg/trade/docs/press_release_trade_evaluation.pdf (PDF†)
The European Commission-financed sustainability impact assessment on the forest sector, for example, demonstrates that there are likely to be significant and irreversible impacts on forests and biodiversity in 'biodiversity hotspot' countries such as Brazil, Indonesia, countries in the Congo Basin and Papua New Guinea. In addition, countries that currently protect their forest industries using trade measures can expect those industries to shrink and possibly collapse. Institute for Development Policy and Management, University of Manchester, "Sustainability Impact Assessment of Proposed WTO Negotiations: Final Report for the Forest Sector Study", June 2005
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Published by Friends of the Earth Trust
Last modified: Jul 2008