Taking liberties : poor people,
free trade and trade justice
This bold new report from Christian Aid explodes the myth that free trade is the answer to poverty. Twenty years of free trade dogma, pushed on poor countries by the rich, has made poor people poorer and has failed to bring about development in the countries in which they live. The report calls for an end to the era of free trade in favour of a more pragmatic approach.
• Full report (623kb PDF)
• Executive Summary (78kb PDF)
Using case studies from Mozambique, India and Honduras, Taking liberties explores how government intervention in trade can play a positive role in fighting poverty.
The report calls for poor countries to be allowed to protect their vulnerable producers and fledgling industries and for these policies to be permitted under the rules of world trade.
The report also raises the alarm about new Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) currently being negotiated between Europe and 77 of its former colonies, including some of the world’s poorest countries.
EPAs are free trade agreements that will demand that poor countries open up their markets to products from Europe.
The impact is likely to be disastrous for millions of poor farmers and producers who are not ready to compete with big business from Europe.
Christian Aid is calling on Prime Minister Blair to block EPAs.
Building on examples of alternative practice from around the world, the report argues that targeted, state intervention - a heresy in current economic debate - is a vital ingredient in helping fledgling industries grow.
Poor people must not be forced to pay the price of competition with rich, hi-tech Western businesses in which they are bound to lose out.
The report highlights the gap between the rhetoric of the British and Irish governments and the realities of their trade policies.
In response to trade justice campaigning, these governments are now talking in more pragmatic terms, but the report calls on them to begin practising what they preach.
The report argues they must now push for changes in the free trade policies of global institutions like the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation.
– Introduction (pages 1-6) (46kb PDF)
– Chapter 1 - Trade matters (pages 7-16) (135kb PDF)
– Chapter 2 - Lessons from history (pages 17-33) (105kb PDF)
– Chapter 3 - Lessons from the developing world (pages 34-53) (210kb PDF)
– Chapter 4 - Making trade work for poor people (pages 54-60) (35kb PDF)
– Endnotes (page 61-63) (28kb PDF)