Better than fairtrade: tariffs against despots: add your opinion on the 38 degrees web site


Better than fairtrade: tariffs against despots


Our leaders want us to buy goods from rich countries with poor factory workers.


Our leaders have said that this restrains inflation at home, and that new wealth in the far east will allways lead to human rights, democracy & pensions. That was Mrs Thatcher's line about China, and it's still built-in to the thinking of the Monetary Policy Committee to control inflation by subsidising cheap imports.


This is OK when it works, but

  • Arabia shows us that ordinary young arabs want civil rights first.
  • In the Peoples Republic of China, state governments are closing free hospitals and clamping down in civil rights rather than share the profits of cheap manufacturing.

The idea of tariffs against despots is simple. If the European Union had a higher tariff against imports from countries without human democratic and welfare rights, plenty of countries in Africa and the Far East would reform themselves pretty quickly. It's as vague but as simple as that.


The appetite for change is shown by a UK Prime MInister's speech today in Kuwait, in which he said that previous policies towards despots bordered on racism. A site like 38 degrees can remind comentators civil servants & politicians to match the aspirations of ordinary arabs.


All that follows is a quote from the speech, quoted to show that politicians might want to be pushed and that even Euro MPs who set tariffs might listen to new ideas.If a prime minister can talk about new ways of engaging with despotic regimes, anyone reading posts on Ethical Fashion Forum should surely do so too.


To browse other ideas on 38degrees or show your support for this one, simply click and vote:

How do we support economic and political reform?

I believe two things are important.


  1. The first is to understand that democracy is a process not an event. And important though elections are, participatory government is about much more than the simple act of voting.

    Democracy is the work of patient craftsmanship it has to be built from the grassroots up. The building blocks have to be laid like the independence of the judiciary, the rights of individuals, free media and association, and a proper place in society for the army. It can’t be done overnight. And if you want evidence of that just look at the history of Britain, a constitutional monarchy which has evolved through time, and where so many of our rights under our laws predate our right to vote by 700 years.
  2. My second belief is this.

    Political and economic reform is vital but it has to be pursued with Al E’htiram with respect for the different cultures, histories and traditions of each nation. We in the West have no business trying to impose our particular local model. The evolution of political and economic progress will be different in each country.

    But that’s not an excuse, as some would argue, to claim that Arabs or Muslims can’t do democracy – the so-called Arab exception. For me that’s a prejudice that borders on racism. It’s offensive and wrong, and it’s simply not true.

    Oman established a Human Rights Commission for the first time last year in Oman. Qatar is now considered to be among the twenty least corrupt nations in the world. Above all, just look around this National Assembly elected by universal suffrage where every community is represented where men and women sit side-by-side and where Ministers are held to account.

    This movement for change is not about Western agendas it’s about the Arab people themselves standing up and saying what they want to happen. And it’s about governments engaging in dialogue with their people to forge a way forward, together. The security and prosperity of this region will come hand-in-hand with development towards more open, fair and inclusive societies.

    The question for us is simply whether we in the West play a role in helping to ensure that change delivers as peaceful and stable an outcome as possible. And I believe we should – by looking afresh at our entire engagement with the region, from our development programmes, to our cultural exchanges and to our trade arrangements.


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