Blog: Leonie BarrieFree and fair trade?

Leonie Barrie | 21 June 2004

Thursday’s summit meeting in Brussels was always going to be a volatile event, but some of the sound-bites I’ve heard seem to suggest that the various trade groups calling for a delay to the lifting of quotas are really playing up to the full glare of the media. Describing the expiration of quotas – for which they’ve had 10 years to prepare – as “a crisis of biblical proportions” for example. Or that without a crackdown' on imports from China governments will face “economic, political and social unrest around the world.”

If a decade has not been enough time to prepare for 1 January 2005, what difference is another couple of years going to make? And how would safeguards really help stem job losses – quotas have had little impact up to now? What they’re supposedly asking for, though, is free and fair trade. Yet no-one seems to have noticed the irony in the fact that their real chance to achieve exactly this in just six months’ time is being overshadowed by a campaign to maintain existing trade barriers or erect new ones.


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