Trade plays a significant role economic development and reducing poverty worldwide. The flows of goods and services between countries remains one of the primary drivers of job creation and economic prosperity, despite this, the international free market remains structured in a way that does not facilitate fair and equitable trade for developing countries.

International trading relationships have historically been weighted against producers and manufacturers in the Global South. The focus, and often insistence, on importing raw products from developing countries drives this imbalance as raw products generate significantly less profit than the finished “value-added” products manufactured in the Global North. Maintaining this trade imbalance between the North and the South can stagnate a countries economic development by restricting it to primary-sector economy.

Unfair and unequitable trade is a complex issue with a diverse set of solutions. Some actors work within the international markets lobbying for changes in international trading laws and standards or building a countries capacity to engage in the market as is, others have set their own external standards and focus on raising consumer awareness.

Countries in the Global South are increasingly working together through South-South trade and regional trading blocs. These blocs can promote regional cooperation and can reduce the Global South’s dependency on international trade contributing to more sustainable economic growth. Fair and equitable participation in trade for these blocs is easier to ensure however, the issue of the international market must be addressed as a matter of equality and justice.

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