The International Development Strategy: a response from TJM and Traidcraft Exchange

Posted on May 16, 2022
Liz Truss

The Government launched its new International Development Strategy which sees trade and investment as a key way for the UK to achieve its commitments to poor countries. The Trade Justice Movement and Traidcraft Exchange have cautioned that such an approach can bring significant risk.

Ruth Bergan, Director of the Trade Justice Movement, said “The UK says that it wants to put independent trade at the heart of its development policy. Yet the document fails to address major trade and development issues. Nowhere in the document does the UK mention its existing commitments on trade under the Sustainable Development Goals, including to ensure the WTO delivers on its promises to developing countries.

“Developing country priorities are simply absent from the strategy. There is no mention of things like easier technology transfer to help deal with climate change, a waiver to ensure equitable access to Covid vaccines, and action at the WTO to ensure countries are able to respond to the food crisis predicted as a result of the Russian war on Ukraine. These gaps are frankly astonishing.

“There is no acknowledgement of the fact that Economic Partnership Agreements with developing countries, which the strategy suggests will be a major focus, have been highly controversial or that the UK had to strong arm a number of countries into signing. The strategy suggests that the UK will now seek to go beyond trade in goods in these agreements, to include things like services, something that the majority of developing countries have resisted until now.

“It is very obvious that the UK just has not thought through its strategy for international trade and investment, in particular how it relates to other international commitments. We urgently need to see a process of wide engagement with a view to developing such a strategy. Trade needs to act in the interests of development, not the other way around.”

Charlotte Timson, Chief Executive of Traidcraft Exchange said

“If trade is genuinely to help the poorest, we need to listen to the voices of workers and small-holder farmers and use trade as a tool to tackle their urgent needs. If we kid ourselves that the needs of these people are best served by UK investment opportunities, we’re in danger of reinforcing existing extractive trade models which shift resources from the poor to the already wealthy.”


Photo: U.K. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss by Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street CC BY-NC-ND