Minister agress to fair trade trip
Patricia Hewitt, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, has accepted an invitation by Christian Aid to visit partner organisations in the developing world, in order to see the impact of the world's grossly unjust trade regime on poor countries.
The minister's visit will take place as she is travelling to Cancun for the World Trade Organisation Ministerial meeting in September.
The invitation 'to see for herself' before taking part in trade decisions that will affect millions of poor people, was offered by Christian Aid last month.
It followed Ms Hewitt's rejection of arguments by Stephen Byers, her predecessor at the DTI, that the government's policy of encouraging trade liberalisation in poor countries should be changed because of the harm it causes to poor people.
Full trade liberalisation, he said, had failed poor people, 'brings huge risks and rarely provides the desired outcome.'
Christian Aid believes that poor countries need 'unfair trade'- with rules tilted in their favour - so that they can develop their own food and industrial production without competition from rich countries.
Dr Daleep Mukarji, director of Christian Aid, said he was delighted that Ms Hewitt had agreed to see how trade rules are destroying the livelihoods of poor farmers as they struggle to compete with cheap, subsidised imports.
"We applaud the fact that she has taken this opportunity to witness the effects of global trade policy on some of the world's poorest communities," he said.
"It is crucial that world leaders take the views of the world's poorest people into account as they make decisions in Cancun."