Sunday, October 03, 2004
Make Trade Fair, is a website by Oxfam, one of the largest NGO's that advocate on behalf of the worlds poor. I think they are wrong on several issues, but they have good information and are doing some good things. An example of where they are right is on the home page. It is a link to send an email to George Bush about ending cotton subsidies. By all means end them, they are an abomination. I am going to spend a bit more time on the site when I get a chance and post more.
UPDATE: I spent a few minutes reading their introduction and purpose pages and now have even more reservations about the organization. They have some blatantly economically false statements in their website. For example take this quote:
Oxfam's Make Trade Fair campaign is calling on governments, institutions, and multinational companies to change the rules so that trade can become part of the solution to poverty, not part of the problem.
While you can likely find a few economists that would argue that trade is an overall net negative for the poor, the great majority would say that this statement is blatantly false. Trade is one of the largest forces for poverty eradication in the world today. You need look no further then China and the rest of east Asia to see the results of export oriented free market reforms. However, Oxfam is right. TODAY TRADE IS NEITHER FREE, NOR FAIR. IT NEEDS TO BE IMPROVED. And, yes, there are places in the world where the market mechanisms caused by international trade are hurting the poor. So I would change Oxfam's statement to the following if I were in charge:
Oxfam's Make Trade Fair campaign is calling on governments, institutions, and multinational companies to change the rules so that trade can become an ever greater part of the solution to poverty.
Granted, Oxfam is likely marketing themselves more toward the activist, anti-capitalist leaning crowd and probably couldn't raise money if that was their position. So check out the site, but don't believe everything you read. But it is a good place to find summaries of the most egregious examples of unfair trade such as cotton subsidies in the US and milk subsidies in Europe.