WTO: free trade or fair trade?

9 November 2005

WTO: free trade or fair trade?

In a meeting today with the Minister and Secretary of State for Economic Affairs, SP Member of Parliament Ewout Irrgang put the case for fair trade in place of free trade. According to Mr Irrgang, this would mean that the poorest countries would retain the right to protect their own markets until they were in a position to compete internationally.

Ewout IrrgangIn negotiations with the World Trade Organisation (WTO), poorer countries have come under pressure to open their markets. Yet economically successful countries such as China and India reached their current position in the first instance by protecting their markets. They removed such protection only after they had built modern industries. As Mr Irrgang says, “The EU is demanding from some countries that they liberalise the water supply, for example, while we ourselves in the Netherlands have decided that this service will never be privatised. Other countries should have the same right to choose.”

The Socialist Party MP argues in addition for the abolition, as rapidly as possible, of export subsidies in agriculture. This could be achieved by 2010 rather than the EU's proposed date of 2013. “The top 15% agricultural corporations in France receive 60% of available European farm subsidies. We should get rid of this sick system in the interests of developing countries as well as our own,” Irrgang concluded,

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