Alex Massie

Three cheers for the Tories. Yes, really.

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David Cameron is receiving some grief for zipping off to Rwanda to talk about the Tories' new policies on global poverty, leaving behind the whines of some that he is ignoring his flooded constituents so-called plight. Well, too bad. Cameron had a good, welcome message to deliver in Kigali:

Tory leader David Cameron has called for an end to trade barriers that put developing countries at an "unfair disadvantage", during a trip to Rwanda.

He said all rich countries should end trade tariffs unilaterally and British aid spending should be speeded up.

Launching a policy group's report on global poverty, he said trade rules were "immoral".

The group's proposals, which may or may not be adopted as Tory policy, include making aid spending more "transparent".

In a speech in Kigali, Mr Cameron called for an immediate end to trade barriers, saying: "Forget the endless tortuous negotiations about getting something in return.

"Just do it. We can afford it, Africa needs it, and we will all benefit from it."

Peter Lilley, who chaired the policy group that came up with the party's new approach, writes in today's Telegraph:

We want to see a campaign to achieve for developing countries' trade what Drop the Debt and Make Poverty History have done for debt relief and aid.

The aim should be to give all low-income countries real trade opportunities with the developed world - that is why we call the campaign "Real Trade".

We hope there will be popular pressure on governments in the EU and other rich countries to put a real trade package at the heart of a revived Doha round or, if it fails, in its place.

In our view, Real Trade would require rich countries to do five things: open their markets unilaterally to the products of all low-income countries; liberalise the "rules of origin" that result in 40 per cent of imports that should enter Europe tariff-free paying duties; give incentives to reduce the high tariff barriers between developing countries; abolish export subsidies that damage Third World agriculture; and give more Aid for Trade to help poor countries develop their exports.

We also want to see more emphasis on economic growth in aid programmes. The proportion of OECD donors' aid spent on infrastructure has fallen by two thirds and that on agriculture by even more over two decades.

Hear, bloody hear. Whatever one might think about the Cameronians "squishyness" on some issues, they're spot on here.

Is it too much to hope that other countries might follow Cameron? Probably. After all, the next President of the United States is (as matters stand) likely to be a Democrat and thus unlikely to be too sympathetic to this sort of thing. For some reason Amrican liberals - sorry, progressives - seem determined to resist moves towards free-er trade and, consequently, are quite happy (even determined?) to keep the Third World poor.

UPDATE: Julian Sanchez highlights "Afrobeat star Femi Kuti" saying much the same things as the Tories. Beat that, Iron Broon.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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