Discuss the varying roles of the promotion of trade and the provision of aid, as approaches in the efforts to raise living standards in the poorest countries in the world. Global political leaders around the world struggle with the question whether they should initiate more trade or increase the amount of aid they give to least developed countries. A least developed country is typically defined as a country wih low incomes, than 800$ GDP per capita per year, also with weak human resources such as nutrition, health, education levels and literacy.
The UN have recognised 50 countries that fall under the LDC category, 33 of which are in Africa (all sub Saharan Africa); including Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Haiti and the Sudan. Many LDCs suffer from ongoing and widespread conflict, such as Darfur in Sudan – along with extensive political corruption such as Haiti, which is frequently ranked as one of the most politically corrupted country in the world.
With certain trade agreements put into place, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement has, not only increased the wealth of the United States considerably but also allowed for the standard of living within Mexico to slowly increase. There are many problems within this country category, which needs to be heavily addressed. The problems, I believe, could potentially be categorized in order of importance – arguably the most important problem that needs to be sorted out within many of these countries is the corruption.
Sierra Leone has been seen to be highly corrupted over the years, with 11 years of civil war and carnage – mainly due to the increase in natural resources that were discovered in large amounts within the country. This led to greedy individuals trying to take control and exploit the weak and poor residents of the country to find such resources, such as diamonds.
In 2002, the largest UN fore in action today deployed 14,500 peacekeepers to try and aid the country into becoming peaceful and with the support of President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah, Sierra Leon can ‘wage a new war against corruption’, even though later on he was indirectly charged with corruption. With this form of aid, it has helped the country develop even further from ranked the least developed country within 2000, to slowly becoming more developed. This end of corruption, which only came about due to the amount of aid from More Economically Developed country has led to other problems being solved.
It has allowed the country to start generating legal ways of creating an income; and decreased the exploitation of child soldiers. The decrease in corruption has led to less people being murdered because of their ‘voice’ and also allowing people within the country more democratic ability. With the media painting the desperate picture of the country, it led to more people becoming aware of the countries situation – in terms of diamond and corruption. In this instance, aid was the most important form to raise the quality of life for the individuals of the country; stopping a large massacre and political instability within the corruption.
This led to other problems being addressed, such as removal of malnutrition from the UN support; decrease in exploitation of the land; rebel forces trying to destroy the peace and less child soldiers being used. However, this brings the debate whether if free or fair trade were to be created between Sierra Leon and other nations could it have led to an increase in quality of life – was it necessary for the UN to intervene with spending and peacekeepers. There are two main types of aid, free and fair trade aid.
Fair trade is when the actually creators of the good, or for example the growers of coffee beans, will have more of a profit of the sale of the goods – rather than the large corporations exploiting their cheap labour. While free trade is a type of market conditioning, in which the government in terms of taxes and quotas does not cap the sale of goods. Fair trade is largely more beneficial for the poorer people of the country, as it provides a living wage for the actual producers of the goods.
While, free trade would allow the country to get onto the global market and also have specific support for transnational corporations – for example an increase of jobs. However, this could be argued that this in itself is aid and the TNCs are contributing to the support of the countries needs. On the other hand, there needs to be some limits on international companies re-locating their factories to LDCs or even LEDCs, as it could lead to further problems.
The development may have removed many child soldiers around the world, but it could lead to children working in industrial factories creating shoes or clothing for MEDCs. This could be seen as an increase in quality of life from having the threat of dying in a civil war, however this is still not the best quality of life for children. Also, with free trade it would allow people to potentially immigrate to other countries where they could earn more for their family and send it home.