Saturday, April 09, 2005

Oxfam's campaign to Make Trade Fair

Hooray for the activist enlightened neoclassical economist rabble! I can't recall reading quite anything like the eloquent pro-trade appeal of Oxfam's current campaign to Make Trade Fair. The introduction to the centerpiece report reads:
Trade is one of the most powerful forces linking our lives, and a source of unprecedented wealth. Yet millions of the world's poorest people are being left behind. Increased prosperity has gone hand in hand with mass poverty. Already obscene inequalities between rich and poor are widening.

World trade could be a powerful motor to reduce poverty, and support economic growth, but that potential is being lost. The problem is not that international trade is inherently opposed to the needs and interests of the poor, but that the rules that govern it are rigged in favour of the rich.
The preface to the report is by Nobel prize-winning economist Amartya Sen. The report has no patience with the empty and ritualized debate between "globaphiles" and "globaphobes." The Oxfam campaign praises the anti-globalization movement for raising some of the right issues, but it fundamentally rejects that movement's remedy.
History makes a mockery of the claim that trade cannot work for the poor. Participation in world trade has figured prominently in many of the most successful cases of poverty reduction - and, compared with aid, it has far more potential to benefit the poor.
In the campaign's clever visuals, music and media stars from around the world act out what it feels like to have agricultural supplies dumped on them. The tagline is, "Ever felt dumped on"? Antonio Banderas:

Banderas

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