So it’s finally happening. In March 2017, UK Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50 and the country will officially be leaving the European Union.
The implications are enormous – not least for some of the world’s poorest people. And yet nobody is talking about this.
In the last few months, International Trade Minister, Liam Fox has begun informal talks with over ten countries – including China, Brazil, India and the US - to discuss potential trade deals once the UK leaves the EU. And these deals will impact the lives of millions – for better, or for worse.
If we start importing more from countries like Australia or the US, what happens to workers from Belize, who have sold nearly ¼ of their goods over the last five years to the UK? What happens to the Gambia, who sent 14% of their goods to the UK? Any trade deal the UK strikes must assess the impact it will have on developing countries like these.
That’s not the only complication.
While the UK is still a member of the EU, developing countries can sell their goods in the UK and pay little to no tax for this benefit. This makes it cheaper for them to export their goods or services, which in turn means more money for the producer. Arrangements like this help developing economies grow and lift people out of poverty.
However, once the UK leaves the EU, this arrangement is not guaranteed. If developing countries have to start paying tariffs in the UK, this will increase the cost placed onto the producer, and could devastate already fragile economies — an unintended consequence that would hurt people and cost lives.
Every person – no matter where they are born, or what they do – deserves to receive fair pay, working conditions, and terms of trade.Raise your voice now and call on the UK's International Trade Minister to ensure that Brexit doesn’t come at the expense of the world’s poorest people.