/ 18 January 2003

West blamed for ‘shameful’ global poverty

The west is accused of ”unjustifiable and objectionable” protectionism in its dealings with developing countries, in a report attacking the ”shameful” level of global poverty.

The powerful cross-party economic affairs committee of peers chaired by the former Labour minister and economist Lord Peston, singled out agriculture and textiles for criticism.

”The word that comes to my mind is hypocrisy,” Lord Peston said yesterday, attacking the common agriculture policy for denying markets to developing countries which were trying to modernise.

”It would be as if some football team in the Premier League really had improved its position and then Manchester United changed the rules and said you have got to score three goals to count one,” he said in an ePolitix website interview.

The committee found that financial institutions such as the World Trade Organisation and IMF were dominated by rich countries. It urged the government to improve the balance of power and to address the brain drain from poorer countries to the west.

The committee’s report, following a 16-month inquiry into the impact of globalisation, called on ministers to bring an end to ”objectionable and unjustifiable” agricultural and textile protectionism and to stop child labour in developing countries. The peers said: ”While there are negative aspects to globalisation, the weight of evidence suggests that the opportunities created outweigh the dangers.”

But it added: ”There remains, in our view, a shameful level of poverty in the world. We are appalled at the sheer waste of human potential that such poverty implies.”

An education strategy which ended child labour was the key to a successful economy, the report said, adding that this should be at the centre of any development plan.

”Increasing skills levels is an important element of a strategy to enable those countries to exploit more effectively the potential of globalisation.” – Guardian Unlimited Â