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Baptists hand MP petition calling for trade changes

CAMPAIGNERS for world trade justice met Hampshire North-East MP James Arbuthnot to hand over a petition of 200 signatures.

CAMPAIGNERS for world trade justice met Hampshire North-East MP James Arbuthnot to hand over a petition of 200 signatures.

Members of Fleet Baptist Church are calling on him to support the Christian Aid "trade for life" campaign which argues that changes in international trade are needed to eradicate poverty in developing countries.

Fleet Baptists engaged in a lively debate and quizzed the Tory MP on his views on June 29.

Cedric Dowe, a member of the church in Clarence Road, welcomed Mr Arbuthnot and asked him to pass on the petition to opposition leader Iain Duncan Smith.

"We're going to hand over pledges made by friends of this church and other Christian organisations in Fleet," he said. "We hope he'll support us in seeking changes to eradicate world poverty and protect the environment."

He said he hoped the government would be spurred into dealing with world debt and to using its influence to push for a revision of world trade rules.

"The rules of the free market economy need to be changed because they're damaging developing countries. They need to be altered so that they don't just make the rich richer," said Mr Dowe, who is a member of the church's social action team.

He said the world's poor should be given the chance of a future without poverty, saying the United Nations estimated that for every dollar developing countries received in aid they lost 14 dollars in unfair trade tariffs.

Mr Arbuthnot said world poverty was one of the most crucial issues the world faced. He also praised Christian Aid for managing to raise its profile.

"It's a truly effective campaign. I've never known any other campaign to get two debates in parliament in one day," he said, as he explained that it was recently debated in both the House of Commons and Westminster Hall.

"We (Conservatives) agree with you to an extent, but not completely. The best way of reducing world poverty is to make trade as open as possible. We believe rich countries should call on poor countries to open up their markets, but only if rich countries open up their markets."

He said the hypocrisy of developed countries telling poor ones to open up their markets when they wouldn't buy their goods needed to be changed.

However he did express some reservation, saying: "We'd be worried if this led to more protection and trade barriers."

He said the Tories were yet to decide the details of how the changes could be made.


Charlotte Neal
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