Overview on international development policy of three main parties:
International development is an area where there is a high degree of consensus on top line policy. All three main parties are positive about international development and all three are committed in principle to meeting the UK’s target of 0.7% national income as aid spending by 2013. The
differences in the three parties on International Development are only really apparent with a more in depth examination of their policy papers.
An overview of the three main party positions on International Development, based on information taken from a more detailed analysis on the BOND website: http://www.bond.org.uk/pages/vote-
global-2010.html is provided in the table at the end of this section
On support for Fairtrade
All three parties specifically mention Fairtrade in their international development policy documentation:
; The latest DFID White paper on international development (representing current
government policy) launched in 2009 was very strong on support for fair and ethical trade,
and the Fairtrade Foundation is specifically mentioned. The paper acknowledges both the
development impact and the work with UK citizens to build the movement and commits the
government to a very significant increase in funding to promote fair and ethical trade.
; In their ‘Green Paper’ on international development the Conservatives state that they are:
‘enthusiastic about the achievements and future potential of the Fair Trade movement’
and include ‘support for the Fair Trade movement’ as one of the papers key
recommendations. The Green paper describes Fair Trade as a way for consumers to: ‘send
a voluntary signal, through the market, about the conditions in which they want their
goods to be produced’.
; The Liberal Democrat consultation paper on International development is favourable to
Fairtrade and highlights the development benefits that Fairtrade has brought, noting that:
‘The fair trade movement aims to seek greater equity in international trade, by offering
better prices to marginal producers in developing countries... in 2007 it is estimated
that 7.5 million people benefit directly from fair trade prices.’
On Trade Policy/Trade Justice
The Fairtrade Foundation is not opposed to global trade and we believe that it can bring many benefits to all involved. However we believe that needs to be fundamental change both to the way trade happens now and to the way in which trade deals and trade policies are negotiated. The Fairtrade Foundation is a member and supporter of the Trade Justice Movement (TJM) and shares the stated priorities of TJM with regard to global trade:
; Ensuring that governments, particularly in poor countries, can choose the best solutions to
end poverty and protect the environment.
; Ending export dumping that damages the livelihoods of poor communities around the
; Making laws that stop big business profiting at the expense of people and the environment.
The Liberal Democrats are generally positive about the opportunities of international trade for development but their consultation paper notes that the benefits of trade are often very unevenly distributed, and suggest a number of changes to the current proposals in WTO negotiations to ensure that trade liberalization genuinely benefits poor people.
In 2008 the Liberal Democrats passed an emergency motion in response to the collapse of world trade negotiations. The motion, calls for a fundamental reappraisal of the role of the World Trade Organisation and proposes a number of actions to make world trade rules more friendly to the twin goals of development and the environment.
These include a call for developed countries to proceed with the reductions in agricultural subsidies they had offered during the Doha trade negotiations, and for much greater investment in ‘aid for trade' assistance to the poorest developing countries, helping them to open up their economies to international trade without suffering excessive disruption.
The Conservative’s green paper includes a commitment to ‘push for EU and other rich countries to
unilaterally to drop their trade barriers for low income countries by 2013 at the latest and to push for the abolition of all export subsidies from the EU and other developed countries. There is also a
desire expressed to reduce damaging subsidies in rich countries such as the CAP, to push for more liberal rules of origin (eg allowing African countries to use Asian goods such as textiles, in products and still retain preferential access) and to find ways to increase South-South trade.
At the same time there is a strong emphasis on completing the Doha Trade round of WTO quickly, with no clear line on what needs to change in current proposals in WTO or on the institutional structure and operation of WTO.
The DFID White Paper acknowledges that ‘unfair trade rules prevent producers from the poorest
countries gaining access to the biggest markets. Poor infrastructure, such as bad roads, prevents economies from reaching their productive potential and competing effectively in the global market’.
The White Paper then also goes on to commit to ‘a quick conclusion to the Doha trade talks’ and a ‘push’ for Economic partnership Agreements with ACP countries. Again, there is no clear line on
what needs to change in current proposals in WTO or on the institutional structure and operation of WTO.
On procurement and regulation
The Fairtrade Foundation believes that an independent supermarket ombudsman is needed, and that this needs to have sufficient powers and be available to suppliers from outside the UK wherever relevant. We believe that public procurement is a potentially powerful tool to increase the incentives for companies to seek Fairtrade certification, or to comply with fair trade principles. This potential needs to be realised through more proactive government actions.
All three parties have agreed in principle to introduce a Supermarket ombudsman to ensure compliance by retailers with the ‘Groceries supply code of practice’. However, it remains to be seen from any party exactly what form such a body would take, what powers it would have and whether it would allow for complaints to be dealt with from suppliers from outside the UK.
The Government White paper on international development does state that: ‘The government is
committed to supporting fair trade through its procurement’ but does not provide any more detail
There is no commitment in the Conservative Green paper on development to the use of procurement in the UK to encourage Fairtrade, or any other ethical consumption patterns and there is no acknowledgement that actions in the UK, on procurement, regulation, consumption etc should be part of a development strategy
The Liberal Democrat consultation paper on international development notes that procurement policy can be used by local government to promote fair trade and increase development impact, and states that there is scope for much greater action if the EU and WTO rules can be clarified or revised to allow progressive local procurement wherever possible.
An overview of the three main party positions on International Development
Based on information taken from the BOND website: http://www.bond.org.uk/pages/vote-
The Conservative Party committed to the target of 0.7% of national income for development by 2013 in their 2005 manifesto, and the Conservatives' development Green Paper, One World Conservatism, further echoes support for this target. The Conservatives have historically emphasised trade liberalisation, private sector initiatives and an efficient but scaled-down state. The Green Paper published in July follows this trend and expands on current key
Conservative policy themes, including:
; Value for money: pushing aid effectiveness and a results-based approach to aid,
withholding certain funds until successful completion of projects (cash-on-delivery). ; Public support for development: introducing choice into development programmes
by giving people in developing countries a means of selecting service providers, as well as improving domestic support for development initiatives by giving UK taxpayers a
say in project funding (under the proposed MyAid initiative)
; Conflict and fragile states: a focus on conflict and fragile states as a key arena for development with an enhanced role for the Stabilisation Unit and coordination across
government ; Wealth creation: making targeted investments in infrastructure and agriculture to
improve long-term growth prospects, as well as creating the environment for private
sector initiatives to prosper ; Multilateral institutions: guiding funding to multilateral programmes that are proven
to be effective at impacting poverty and cutting funding for less effective programmes
Labour's current position as reflected in DFID's recent White Paper, Building Our Common
Future, in particular emphasises:
; Coherence and effectiveness: Improving aid effectiveness through a focus on coordinated delivery, both between UK departments and within and between
multilateral organisations (e.g. the EU, UN, IMF and World Bank) ; State-building: The importance of developing the tax base of countries, providing
budget support and also developing the general capacity of key groups including civil
society organisations as well as national governments
; Climate change: A broader integration of climate change considerations into
development policies and programmes ; Social protection: A renewed focus on ensuring that development policies and
programmes put appropriate social protections in place
; Conflict and fragile states: Conflict and fragile states as a key arena for
development, dedicating half of all new bilateral aid spending to such states
The Liberal Democrat Party also advocated the 0.7% of national income target in their 2005 manifesto and has been quite consistent in their policy approach to development. As a recent paper by Michael Moore, the Liberal Democrat Shadow International Development Secretary, called Development in a Downturn highlights, key strands of the Liberal Democrat 2010 agenda include:
; A ‘Green New Deal': combining measures to combat climate change with broader development measures.
; Multilateral institutions: increasing multilateral aid, coupled with championing
democratic reforms of international financial institutions.
; Private capital: expanding private capital flows through helping simplify things like
business investment and Diaspora remittances to developing countries. ; Coherence: improving policy coherence by coordinating development objectives
throughout government departments. ; Enforcing aid commitments: ensuring that 2005 commitments made by G8
countries at Gleneagles are met sooner rather than later, in order to help developing
countries during the ongoing financial crisis.