NGOs from around the world demand freedom to trade in agricultural products
IPN Press release
Monday, 8 September, Cancun – A coalition of NGOs from countries across the globe is calling for free trade in chocolate, and other agricultural goods, to help the poor.
The Global Freedom to Trade Campaign, with 25 NGO members representing India, Nigeria and West Africa, Kenya and East Africa, Colombia, believes that chocolate is symbolic of the distorted global trade in agricultural goods.
Campaign member James Shikwati, of the Inter Region Economic Network of Eastern Africa, comments: “As world leaders gather this week for the WTO meeting, the Freedom to Trade Campaign believes that chocolate symbolizes the harm done by rich countries through tariffs, quotas, and subsidies on agricultural goods, which perpetuate poverty and only benefit special interests in wealthy countries.”
Mexico is the birthplace of chocolate, and today, the Global Freedom to Trade campaign will distribute “Freedom to Trade Chocolate” at an event in front of a Mayan pyramid at the Sheraton Tower and Resorts Hotel in Cancun. Campaign members believe that by scrapping tariffs, quotas, and subsidies, chocolate lovers and consumers alike would enjoy cheaper chocolate, coffee, and other goods.
“Tariffs protect the rich. They are welfare for the well-to-do. The poor want to be free to trade – to buy and sell without government restrictions,” commented campaign member Leon Louw, of the NGO the Free Market Foundation in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Eliminating tariff and non-tariff barriers would offer farmers in poor countries a real chance to sell their goods abroad. It would also generate local investment, creating jobs and opportunity for people in commodity-exporting countries. And it would allow agricultural producers to diversify exports, making them less dependent on primary products and therefore less subject to periodic commodity price shocks.