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Friday, 16 November, 2001, 15:10 GMT
'Fair trade must back aid plans'
Food supplies are carried in East Timor
Aid agencies say more must be done
Chancellor Gordon Brown's plans for a new deal for the world's poor will only work if backed by real action to get fair trade for developing nations, say aid agencies.

Charities have welcomed the chancellor's proposals for the richest countries to set up a 36bn aid fund.

This is all empty words unless he can do more to tackle the problems of unfair trade

Fleur Anderson
But they say the UK must do more to raise the level it spends on international aid if it wants to show leadership to other nations on the issue.

Some agencies argue this week's World Trade Organisation talks still saw the richer countries "bullying" poorer nations.

Fairer trade

Fleur Anderson, director of campaigns at Catholic aid agency Cafod, told BBC News Online: "This is all empty words unless he can do more to tackle the problems of unfair trade. Poor countries currently lose 500bn a year in unfair trade."

She argued the WTO talks saw the European Union push for its own interests and said EU markets had to be made more open.

Gordon Brown
Brown wants a global campaign against poverty
Those were fears echoed by Mark Curtis, director of policy at Christian Aid, despite Trade Secretary Patricia Hewitt hailing the talks as a "major step forward in the war on poverty".

Mr Curtis said the new fund could be very useful if spent on such projects as improving basic education and health, rather than big infrastructure schemes.

"What worries me about this proposal is that it could be just another layer of conditions on countries," he said.

Mr Curtis argued the money could be used as a "sweetener" to encourage poorer nations to liberalise their economies when that was not necessarily in their interest.

The plans also include using private money, which Mr Curtis worried could continue a push to "privatise the world's services".

Aid spending levels

The government says it has increased international development aid by 45% in real terms and accepts more needs to be done.

The share of the UK's GDP spent on aid is 0.34% - less than half of the 0.7% target agreed by the UK and many other countries.

Oxfam wants the government to meet the target by the next election but says Mr Brown's latest call is "extremely welcome".

Oxfam is delighted by the challenge the chancellor has set to the international community

Justin Forsyth
The charity's head of policy, Justin Forsyth, said: "Oxfam is delighted by the challenge the chancellor has set to the international community to commit the resources needed to reach the 2015 development goals.

"It is particularly encouraging to hear the chancellor give such a high priority to basic services such as access to health and education."

'Not just money'

Angela Penrose, from Save the Children, said it was true the government had reversed the decline in UK aid spending.

But she wanted ministers to produce a timetable of how they would achieve the 0.7% aid target within 10 years.

Ms Penrose, who also co-ordinates the International Action Against Child Poverty group which brings various charities together, urged Mr Brown to "put his money where his mouth is" so the UK could lead by example.

"Essentially I cannot help but welcome the announcement," she told BBC News Online.

She especially praised the chancellor for linking cash aid with other policies on debt relief, trade and investment.

Ms Penrose said Mr Brown was someone who could "move people" on the issue but pointing at the results of the WTO talks, argued there was a long way forward.

The BBC's Stephen Evans
"The big conundrum is how you can have vigorous markets without winners and losers"
UK Chancellor Gordon Brown
"It is not simply about money"
See also:

16 Nov 01 | UK Politics
UK calls for war on poverty
15 Nov 01 | Business
WTO deal gets mixed reaction
15 Nov 01 | Business
IMF sees global slowdown
22 Jul 01 | Business
G8 extols globalisation
01 Oct 01 | Business
Poverty warning after US attacks
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