Free and Fair Trade

Trade is ultimately only fair when it is free. Protectionism damages our consumers but it also works to the disadvantage of developing countries that need access to our markets. In the era of globalisation, our trading relationships with the rest of the world are vital to our well-being. It is not sufficient to fall back on our trading relationships within the EU; we must seek to dismantle trade barriers internationally.

The EU's policy on agricultural subsidies - advocated by France in particular - has hampered its ability to negotiate fair trading arrangements and has worked directly against our trading interests. In addition, the EU has not recognised that competitiveness is damaged by excessive regulation.

Free trade is very important for developing countries. However, Western countries often distort commodity markets to protect their own interests. Nowhere is this more evident than in the agricultural sector, where the European Union and the United States give large subsidies to their own farmers, impose tariffs on produce from overseas and dump cheap food in the markets of developing countries.

We would seek to dismantle or withdraw from discriminatory trade measures such as the European Common Agricultural Policy.

Ideally the EU would commit itself to radical reform to divest itself of protectionism and to focus on the 'four freedoms' - the free movement of goods, services, people and capital. The EU needs to abolish the Common Agricultural Policy and transform itself from a customs union to a free trade area, allowing its members to negotiate trade accords with non-EU countries.

The ultimate objective should be global free trade, which would bring immense benefits to the developing world. An enlarged European Union free trade area, free of the current protectionism, would be a massive step in this direction.

Ideally the EU would commit itself to radical reform to divest itself of protectionism and to focus on the 'four freedoms' - the free movement of goods, services, people and capital. The EU needs to abolish the Common Agricultural Policy and transform itself from a customs union to a free trade area, allowing its members to negotiate trade accords with non-EU countries.

The ultimate objective should be global free trade, which would bring immense benefits to the developing world. An enlarged European Union free trade area, free of the current protectionism, would be a massive step in this direction.