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07.04.2005 General News

Coalition calls for end to liberalisation

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Accra, April 7, GNA - The Christian Council of Ghana, the Fellowship of Christians Councils and Churches in West Africa (FECCIWA) and a Coalition of Civil Society Organisations on Thursday called for an end to forced liberalization by the World Trade Organization (WTO) and severe conditions imposed on poorer countries by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank.

The Group said to achieve trade justice, rich countries must change their policies and stop forcing liberalisation on poor countries and allow them to take control of their development processes. "Governments, particularly rich countries, must ensure tjat poor countries are not forced to further liberalise their industrial, service or agricultural sectors through trade negotiations at the WTO," Mr Baffour Amoa, Secretary General FECCIWA, told a press conference at the launch of the Global Week of Action on Trade.

The week-long trade campaign being organized by the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, a broad network for coordinated international advocacy on HIV/AIDS and global trade, would be held across the world on the theme: "Make Trade Work For The Poor - It Is A Human Right." More than 10 million people spread in 70 countries are taking part in the campaign, which is aimed to show the devastating effects of free trade, put forward alternatives to the current trade system and show the scale of the global movement for trade justice.

Mr Amoa criticised the imposition of risky and unproven economic reforms and attaching stringent conditions to debt relief and aid on poor countries by the IMF and World Bank, such as a cut in state subsidies, liberalisation of markets to foreign trade and investment as well as privatisation of public services.

He called for an end to liberalisation pushed through regional and bilateral trade agreements, arguing that these agreements were being negotiated between countries with different levels of economic development and had little meaning to efforts at poverty reduction. Governments of the rich nations must stop pursuing free trade agreements that were inimical to the needs and rights of local people and communities as well as end agricultural dumping, he said. Mr Sam Danse, Country Director of Oxfam, said the week offered an opportunity to the citizens to stand up against the devastating effects of unfair trade practices on their lives.

Various events, such as a float through the principal streets of Accra, a food tasting bazaar and musical concert are being organized to draw attention to the adverse impact of free trade on the lives of the poor and offer alternatives to free trade to ensure trade justice. 07 April 05

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