FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND TRADE
“Marian Hobbs’s call for New Zealanders to support developing countries by buying a ‘Fair Trade’ product during Fair Trade Week is pure tokenism,” claimed Libertarianz leader Bernard Darnton today.
“Ms Hobbs is correct that trade with developing countries is the best way to help them,” he added, “but a token cup of overpriced coffee once a year is not going to help. The best way for New Zealand to help developing countries would be to drop all trade barriers and encourage other countries to do the same.
“Her emphasis on ‘fair prices’ and ‘acceptable working conditions’ is just protectionism in disguise. Developing countries trade best on price and removing this competitive advantage from them will keep them mired in desperate poverty for many more generations.
“What the developing world needs is more sweatshops, not less. These sweatshops were the route out of poverty for Taiwan and South Korea in the past, they are the route out of poverty for Thailand and Vietnam today, and they will be the route out of poverty for many other countries in the future.
“Working conditions in third world sweatshops are awful by our standards but they pay far more than does third world agriculture – that’s why locals queue up for jobs at them. Western companies lift local working conditions, encourage local infrastructure, and introduce new money into desperately poor economies.
“Completely free trade is the developing world’s best chance at success and it’s a chance we should give them.”
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Reference: “Add some ‘fair trade’ to your shopping list,” Aid Minister Marian Hobbs, 11th May 2005.