BREXIT could either “make or break” farmers from the poorest countries in the world, depending on whether the Government pushes for a fairer trade deal, or one that could cost those nations an extra £1 billion in taxes, fairtrade campaigners have warned in a new report.
Brexit: Let’s change trade for good, published on Monday by the Fairtrade Foundation, and the Christian campaign group, Traidcraft, during Fairtrade Fortnight, urges the Government to offer the poorest countries “preferential, non-reciprocal access” to the UK market, or risk those countries facing “unfair competition” from wealthier nations.
“Many farming communities are already living on the edge, struggling with the impact of exploitation brought on by low prices for their produce,” the chief executive of the Fairtrade Foundation, Michael Gidney, said. “Brexit could make or break the future for these farmers. . . If the UK is to become a great, global trading nation we must make sure we change trade for good.”
The report recommends that the Government “act quickly” to offer poorer countries free access to the UK market; to study the impact of planned trade deals with wealthier nations; make it easier for developing countries to sell higher value products to the UK; and enforce trade policies to tackle poverty in line with the agreed Sustainable Development Goals. The Government should also re-evaluate overseas investment to help the poor and vulnerable benefit from trade, it says.
The chief executive of Traidcraft, Robin Roth, said that, should the Government “fail to act”, the cost of everyday products are likely to rise in developing countries after the UK leave the EU, while incomes are likely to decrease.