Green Manifesto 2010 Trade, Aid and Debt
Making it fair, making it sustainable
Free trade has been globalisation’s mantra for over 30 years. It comes at a cost because:
• It encourages a ‘race to the bottom’, in which countries are forced to compete with one another to offer the lowest costs, leading to downward pressure on wages and environmental protection, as well as lowering of corporate taxation.
• The liberalisation of trade in goods and services has rendered the world economy increasingly unstable because economic contagion spreads more quickly.
• It destroys infant industries in poorer countries, which are forced to open their markets to imports from more developed countries, and undermines efforts to become more self-reliant in both North and South.
• It produces increased international trade, which makes a significant contribution to the rise in transport-related carbon emissions. So we seek trading relations, particularly with poor people in poor countries, that give them a fair price for their products within a stable and sustainable pattern of trade. Poorer countries are entitled to protect their people and their markets from unregulated competition, and we would seek to turn the World Trade Organization into a General Agreement on Sustainable Trade, which, together with a reformed International Monetary Fund, would better reflect the interests of smaller countries.
• Promote fair trade, so that trade with developing countries is based on decent pay and conditions, with a fair price paid to producers.
• Ensure that trade deals, whether global or with the European Union, allow developing countries to retain control over their economies and do not force through deregulation and liberalisation.
• Promote an international Financial Transactions Tax (a Robin Hood Tax) on transactions between financial institutions, and introduce unilaterally a small levy on foreign currency transactions involving the pound sterling.
• Support the decent work agenda, by encouraging developing countries with which we work to implement core International Labour Organization standards.
• Ensure that UK companies operating abroad adhere to environmental and human rights standards.
Promoting fair trade starts at home
Led by Green Party local councillors and Norwich South candidate Adrian Ramsay, a Green Party motion for Norwich to become a Fair Trade City was adopted by the City Council. This means that the Council stocks and helps to promote fair trade goods.
The Robin Hood Tax
We support the idea of a Robin Hood Tax, sometimes called a Financial Transactions Tax (and similar to the special case of a ‘Tobin Tax’ on currency transactions). It would involve a very small tax (maybe 0.05%) on the value of every financial transaction between financial institutions worldwide. Globally this tax has the potential to raise as much as £250 billion, as well as help stabilise the financial markets.
Any global climate change treaty must involve a transfer of resources of well over US$150 billion a year from rich countries to poorer countries channelled through the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to pay for the development of renewable energy technologies and climate change adaptation, and to help resist deforestation.
We favour dedicating the revenues from an international financial transactions tax to this purpose and to wider global sustainable development. If that does not prove successful the UK must pay its fair contribution from other resources.
Debt, and Ecological Debt
The Green Party calls for a reassessment of the nature of debt itself by acknowledging the historical ecological debt owed by rich to poor countries.
A 2008 study by the University of California, Berkeley, found that the rich world’s ecological debt to the poor world outstrips the traditional debt owed by poor countries to rich ones. For example, greenhouse emissions from low-income countries have imposed US$740 billion of damage on rich countries, while in return rich countries have imposed US$2300 billion of damage on poorer countries.
The ecological debt has been built up by: the extraction of natural resources without proper payment; the use of local and indigenous knowledge for the development of products (e.g. medicines) without proper recompense; the use of local land for mono-crop export rather than for feeding the local population; and the appropriation of the atmosphere for the disproportionate emission of climate change gases. Ecological debt needs to be acknowledged and paid for. Simultaneously, the Green Party wants to see the cancellation of all unjust and unsustainable traditional debt ‘owed’ by the developing world to richer countries.
Debts are often unjust and they worsen poverty. Much of the poorer world’s debt is left over from reckless lending by wealthier countries in the 1970s. Some of the effects of this are made worse by corrupt government in parts of the developing world, but the real damage is done by the huge repayments demanded by the IMF, the World Bank, and rich-country governments.
At the moment there are lots of strings attached to debt cancellation, often unjust and undemocratic in themselves. We want to see these strings removed. In the end the only way to avoid debt in the future is economic justice now. This is why we positively support the Millennium Development Goals and their achievement by the 2015 target.
• Fully implement and enforce the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.
• Increase aid. We will exceed the UN’s 0.7% target and allocate at least 1% of UK Gross National Product for aid by 2011, adding an extra £4.5bn pa. Aid should be targeted for the poorest, not involve economic policy conditions, respect gender equality and not be diverted to equipping security forces.
•Keep an International Aid Department separate from the Foreign Office, with its own Secretary of State, so as to separate foreign policy interests from humanitarian assistance
Copyright ©, The Green Party, 1a Waterlow Road, London N19 5NJ. All rights reserved. Any rights not expressly granted herein are reserved.