Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Free Trade - The Wrong Question?

As part of our research we come along some interesting articles and documents, which we would like to share with you - together with a comment from one of the tickerTXT team.

I found this interesting paper by Claire Slatter "Will trade liberalisation lead to the eradication or the exacerbation of poverty?" (Address to council the International Development Trade Forum in 2003) . And I think as many of those politicised and emotional topics it might be quite interesting to challenge the assumptions... to ask if it is the right question?

Free trade is often discussed as the foundation for a solution to global market inequalities. And yes, at tickerTXT we see the problem of rural poverty as mostly a market problem. But first and foremost we see it as a local and regional issue, a challenge which needs to be addressed at it's core.

As long as these enormous differences in efficiencies and use of economies of scale exist, global free trade agreements won't have a big impact in solving the problem.

For example who wins if a very efficient supermarket chain using well oiled distribution channels rolling out in poor rural areas or a fragmented local farmer market, everyone for himself, where most barely make their living?

The answer may however not be to go back to old protectionist methods, as this would also not solve the problem, maybe not even delay or soften the blow.

We think it is time to give the people of those markets the tools and techniques to solve issues where the occur, at the source, to have the possibility and the means to compete. And if we have nothing, we have at least ourselves. Therefore we as tickerTXT want to make available the most powerful leverage we have, the power of communities, the power of more than one!