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Mass Lobby Of MPs -November 2nd 2005

MANCHESTER CAMPAIGNERS DEMAND TRADE JUSTICE

by Amy Merone

Campaigners from Manchester braved the rains last week to lobby their MPs for trade justice in developing countries.

More than 8,000 people from across the UK came together to the Houses of Parliament to demand fairer trade rules for some of the world’s poorest people.

Gorton MP Gerald Kaufman faced some tough criticism from members of his constituency who had made the journey down South to lobby him to take their demands for trade justice to Prime Minister Tony Blair and Secretary of State for Trade and Industry Alan Johnson, ahead of the World Trade Organisation meeting in Hong Kong next month.

Gerald Kaufman said that he was proud of the achievements of his government in the area of trade, but conceded that they weren’t perfect and that there is still a long way to go.

 He said: “I think you will have to agree that I have been an active campaigner for getting trade rules changed that govern people in the world’s poorest countries. I have already signed the Early Day Motion and written to Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Alan Johnson, and Hilary Benn has a tremendous record with trade issues.

 “However, I am not for one minute claiming that our government is perfect. We still have a long way to go, but one thing I can say is keep up the pressure. I have never known in my 25 years as an MP, a campaign that has been so effective in pressurising a government to change the way that things are done. It has had a tremendous success and we as a government are responding to that.”

 Campaigners from across Manchester want to see the trade rules changed that stop farmers and producers in developing countries from selling their produce both in country and to rich countries for a decent price. As it stands, rich countries are able to dump their excess products on the markets of developing countries at rock bottom prices, which local producers cannot compete with.

Chris Worrall, Trade Campaigner for Oxfam in the North West, said that it was incredible to see more than 8,000 people committed to the issue of trade justice and that their presence would help to keep up the pressure on the government to act.

 He commented: “It has been fantastic to see so many people from Manchester travel to London to voice their concerns to their MP about trade justice in some of the world’s poorest countries.

 “We are campaigning to see an end to agricultural export subsidies, which currently mean that rich countries are able to dump their excess products on the markets of poor countries. This has a devastating effect on local producers and farmers because it means that they cannot afford to send their children to school, they cannot afford to provide for their families and it keeps them locked in poverty.

 “2005 has been a fantastic year for campaigners who have relentlessly called for changes in debt relief, aid and trade justice for people in developing countries and with the World Trade Organisation meeting in Hong Kong next month, this really is the last chance we have this year of making an impact to change the lives of poor people.”

 For the constituents of Gerald Kaufman, they had a clear message for him. Melanie Phillips is from the Co-Operative Bank. She says that now really is the time for action.

 “There’s 8,000 people alone who came to London to make their voices heard and to demand that the government listen to what we want to see happen with trade rules in developing countries. They have to now listen to what we are calling for and they have to act on it.”

 

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Mark Hunter - Cheadle

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Serena Tramonti (left)

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Dave in the rain