Trade For Life: Making Trade Work for Poor People

A Christian Aid book by Mark Curtis.

Across the world, poor people are suffering as a result of the current global trade system. For a decade trade rules have been negotiated through the World Trade Organisation (WTO). They cover not merely trade issues, but also investment, services, agriculture and intellectual property rights. Can these rules be rewritten to serve poor people better, or will they continue to be pushed to the margins as the rich get richer?

Read the Executive Summary

“The way the WTO works is like putting an adult in a boxing ring with a child. It’s like pitching Manchester United against an unknown Zimbabwean football team. The WTO should be helping to make countries more equal” – Christian Aid partner in Zimbabwe

Currently 1.3 billion people live in conditions of extreme poverty. The world’s 49 least developed countries together account for less than half of one percent of world trade. This book shows what is wrong with the global trading system through case studies from across the developing world:

  • the decision-making process is biased against the poor;.
  • many WTO agreements harm rather than help the poor;
  • often there are no rules where rules are needed, for instance to regulate the huge power of multinational companies.

Existing trade agreements risk deepening poverty and inequality. But the book explains how a new round of negotiations may make a bad situation worse:

  • multinational companies are gaining increasing control over developing country markets in areas previously denied to them;
  • developing countries are being forced into an economic straitjacket which stops them choosing their own paths to development.

Trade can be made to serve poor people. Based on new research, this book outlines Christian Aid’s view of why we must act now to rewrite the global rules to benefit poor people.


1. Why Trade matters to the poor
2. The World Trade Organisation
3. The seven deadly rules
4. Priorities of the powerful
5. Transnational corporations and the need for regulation
6. Trade for Life: Pro-poor alternatives and recommendations
7. Case studies: Haiti, Brazil, Philippines, Peru, Sudan , Uganda

1 comment

  1. Taha says:

    I truly recommend everyone to read this magnificient book that opened my mind into a completely new and unique reflection of what the world’s economy is based on today: making poor people poorer, and rich people richer!

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