WHAT'S THE PROBLEM?
The UK government has championed the protection of aid spending and is taking a leading role in developing new Sustainable Development Goals. It also talks up trade as a way to tackle global poverty. But the rhetoric often fails to match reality.
In reality recent changes in EU regulations risk pushing 200,000 farmers and workers from African, Caribbean and Pacific countries into poverty as they lose out to cheaper, subsidised European sugar beet producers. In countries such as Kenya, Uganda, Honduras and Dominican Republic, proposed changes to EU organic standards could hike up costs for many coffee and banana farmers.
SO WHAT'S THE SOLUTION?
Global trade can work for the poor, if the rules of the game are fair ones. We need our government to put the poor first in trade. And we need the Sustainable Development Goals to drive forward the right kind of trade – not just more trade, but better, fairer, more sustainable trade.
The UK government must make sure that any trade policy or deal it supports won’t undermine its own commitments to bring about a sustainable end to poverty. It must use its influence to push the EU – where many important trade deals and policies are made – to do the same. This includes other decisions which affect the ability of poor farmers to import their goods, such as changes to regulations, EU agricultural subsidies and quotas.
Unfortunately it is not clear that this is happening. We see too many cases where farmers and workers in poorer countries are losing out to other political priorities. With the new government and new MPs in place now is a great time to write to your local MP and put Fair Trade on their agenda. With Parliament now closed for recess, which means that many MPs will be focusing on constituency matters, this is a good time to get in touch with their local office and arrange a time to meet. If they are taking a break, you can arrange a meeting from 7 September when parliament reconvenes.
The Warrington Fair Trade group with David Mowat Conservative MP