Sunday 28 October 2012

Trade Justice talk - with Liz Taylor and Julian Smith

Liz Taylor centre left, Julian Smith, centre right 
plus Chairman of meeting and 
Secretary of Churches Together in Settle

The Churches Together in Settle and District  talk on "Trade Justice" on 26 Oct held at St John's Methodist Church Settle  raised lots of points, including points for action

Liz Taylor of CAFOD Leeds gave the talk.

Julian Smith MP attended the first half.

 Julian Smith, as well as being our MP -(Ripon and Skipton constituency)  is the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for International Development- Justine Greening, after being PPS to Minister for International Development, Alan Duncan MP. 

What is Trade Justice? 

At the moment we have trade injustice - which is just not fair.

Many  people in poorer countries cannot get out of poverty because 
  •     The rules are stacked against them
  •      Rich people/countries have solicitors and clout to get round the rules. Poor people/countries  have to stick to the rules or they get penalised.

For example, in CAP (The Common Agricultural Policy of the European Community):  Farmers are given subsidies. This means that they can produce and sell crops more cheaply. They produce lots of the crop and have to sell it abroad. They sell it in a poor country at a price that is less than the poor country farmer can grow the crop for. The poor country farmer goes out of business. The poor country has to spend its earnings on buying the food crop.
Then world food prices go up. The poor country cannot afford to pay for the crop. Its farmers no longer grow the crops. The people starve, because they cannot afford to buy food.  They end up selling their land, or selling their children into slavery /tied bondage just to get food.

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) should be organising better rules - but the rich countries won't agree. The Doha round of talks has come to a stand still because of this.
Britain has been one of the best countries in leading the way to have fairer rules - and our government should be encouraged to keep on trying.


1. Encourage the government to reach its target of using 0.7% of GDP as aid, and let people in Settle know how important Aid money is.  

Some of the Aid money from the UK (from DFID - Department for International Development) is being used for very good things (see below). But some individuals in Britain do not want us to give so much money for aid (I know some people in Settle who think we should use all our money for ourselves).
Julian Smith said that all the main UK political parties were broadly in favour of using 0.7%
of our GDP for Development Aid - but not all individuals in the UK are - so it is important for people like us (in the audience) to show to other people how vital aid is, so that the government will then be able to use the money for aid.

Some aid is being used to help developing countries sort out their tax systems, and train their tax officals, so that they can collect tax more effectively from industries in their countries - then they will have more money for education, health etc.. Some British aid has been used to help Vodaphone in Kenya set up mobile phone systems - so that small farmers can phone up and find the current selling price of crops and so not get cheated when they sell their produce.

Julian said the government was keen to use some of the aid, working in partnership with private firms.
Some people in the Settle audience were not happy with this.
However private firms already working in a country may be in a better position to see that the money is transparently and honestly and efficiently used.

Some concern was expressed about corruption and that for both Aid money and Trade Money - some of it gets filtered off by the rich  and powerful individuals within developing countries. Perhaps that is why the UK government give some of the money via aid agencies such as CAFOD, to avoid this.
There is a campaign with Micah Challenge about corruption
There is a campaign "Exposed - shine a light on corruption" run by Micah Challenge, with partners from the Bible society and the Salvation Army and several other organisiations.

2. Support our church aid/development agencies (e.g  CAFOD (Catholic) or MRDF (Methodist), in the projects they have teaching advocacy

These have some projects working with local people in developing countries and teaching them how to do their own advocacy. (Rather than sitting back and hoping help will come from outside)

Margaret Siberry of CAFOD Leeds said that CAFOD and some other projects and development charities had been given matched funding by DIFD (Department for International Development) because DFID recognised that these charities used the money extremely efficiently - and money given to them was used 3 times as effectively as by some other organisations/governments.

Advocacy means

- Getting local people to stand up for themselves and set up groups to put forward pressure on their own governments. Showing them how to make their own views know. 
(In the UK we have a long history of democracy and education. In developing countries many of the people still cannot read or write...)

Apparently even though the WTO DOFA talks have reached standstill, some bilateral partnership agreements have been set up. the Dutch and the British are helping some countries in some advocacy training project. - but I did not get all the notes down.

The MRDF (Methodist Relief and Development Fund) has some projects involving advocacy 

Maggie McSherry told us about this. Seems excellent - maybe I will write a post about it another day.
FairPensions campaigns for major institutional investors to adopt Responsible Investment: 
Recruit a Member Organisation - It says on their website:- "Each of us is in some way directly affected by the decisions of multinational companies, and so, for each of us, there is a good reason to join the FairPensions campaign. The more people who hear our message and get behind it, the more likely it is that Responsible Investment will become the norm - for pensions and beyond. - Join as an individual and get your organisation to join .. Whether you are the member of a small faith group or a national trade union, we would love to hear from you.


Whilst I am more concerned about "Eco" issues than simply "trade" issues - the justice is important for all - including the justice for future generations to inherit a good, species rich environment 


A write up with more details of the talk and discussion will be available in individual churches in Settle.

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