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Christian Aid

The economics of failure

The real cost of 'free' trade for poor countries

A Christian Aid briefing paper, June 2005

SARPN acknowledges the Christian Aid website as the source of this report:
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Trade liberalisation has cost sub-Saharan Africa US$272 billion over the past 20 years. Had they not been forced to liberalise as the price of aid, loans and debt relief, sub- Saharan African countries would have had enough extra income to wipe out their debts and have sufficient left over to pay for every child to be vaccinated and go to school.

Two decades of liberalisation has cost sub-Saharan Africa roughly what it has received in aid. Effectively, this aid did no more than compensate African countries for the losses they sustained by meeting the conditions that were attached to the aid they received. And these losses dwarf the US$40 billion worth of debt relief agreed at the recent meeting of G7 finance ministers.

If new aid and debt relief comes with strings attached that require countries to liberalise trade, it may well do more harm than good. When they meet at Gleneagles, G8 leaders must agree to stop demanding harmful conditions as the price of aid and debt relief.

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