Letter: Try fair trade, not free trade

By advocating the "liberalising [of] Europe's trade with the world, with no strings attached" David Vines is promoting value-free economic growth at the expense of environmental protection ("Let the tiger roar in Europe", Business, 27 July). If liberalisation of international trade continues, the European Union may not be allowed to distinguish, for example, between sustainably and unsustainably harvested timber, or organic and non-organic food. Moreover, free trade has incalculable costs in unemployment, income inequity and the weakening of communities left behind by economic "development".

What we need now is fair not free trade: a new ecological economics that enables people to participate fully and equitably in the benefits of trade while at the same time conserving natural resources and preserving the environment.

It is ironic that the four Asian tigers Vines cites as examples for Europe to follow have succeeded so far because they have resisted international pressures to open up their markets. He praises the "strong governments" of the second-wave of Asian developers such as Indonesia - what price human rights?

David Cromwell