Mark Dawson, Coordinator of Fairtrade Yorkshire comments: “Trade negotiations are all about livelihoods. Britain is renegotiating all its trading relationships and this brings risk. Risk that sectors of industry and agriculture, both in the UK and overseas, will be damaged and livelihoods lost.”
The Fairtrade Foundation is asking everyone who is concerned about the livelihoods of those producers across the globe who depend on British trade, to contact their MP’s.
There is a massive risk that in the rush to negotiate “Brexit”, vulnerable and voiceless farmers and workers from the poorest countries could be forgotten.
Too often in the past, changes to trade rules and new trade deals have harmed not helped the poorest people who work hard to grow the food we love. We need to manage risks such as:
- Leaving the EU’s single market and customs area without putting in place measures similar to the ones which currently protect farmers in the poorest developing countries. Doing this would immediately punish millions of farmers and workers with an extra £1 billion import tax bill.
- Rushing into free trade agreements with wealthier countries such as the US, China and Brazil without ensuring that these deals won’t undercut very poor countries which depend on the UK for much of their sales.
Many of us will remember the large trade campaigns of the past and so are aware of the immense damage that can be done by ill thought out trade agreements. It is very disappointing that there has not been a public debate around trade issues either in the run up to the referendum or in its aftermath. The hurried nature of discussion in the UK Parliament, undermines the ability of the UK public to hold their elected representatives to account in the trade negotiation process.
For the Fair Trade movement, secrecy and lack of any real democratic accountability regarding our trade negotiations is not on. We welcome the reinvigoration of a large scale movement for trade justice: dedicated to protecting livelihoods in the UK and for producers across the globe who rely on UK trade.
Make no mistake, millions of livelihoods, both in the UK and overseas, are at risk in the renegotiation of the UK’s trade agreements. Don’t leave the decisions to the few, who will protect the sectors of the economy that they are interested in, at the expense of everyone else.