George Gelber, Head of Public Policy at CAFOD, has welcome the new International Development Minister Douglas Alexander appointed yesterday. He said: "We congratulate Douglas Alexander on his appointment and look forward to working with him. He has an excellent track record of being an energetic and thoughtful politician. Alexander needs to dust off his previous progressive statements on trade and work to ensure developing countries' concerns translate to real change in trade talks. "Current talks between the EU and the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries are dangerously off course. The European Commission is taking a narrow hard-nosed approach that threatens to hurt ACP countries. "Alexander needs to be bold and ensure that the EU's negotiations with Africa sees a priority given to opening EU markets and backing away from aggressive negotiating demands. DFID needs to work to put the needs of weakest countries first and reign in the gung ho mercantilism of the European Commission." The charity also welcomes the suggestion that DFID will hold some responsibility on trade. George Gelber added: "The rumour that DFID will take on more responsibility for trade if true is very hopeful. Potentially this could mean a better deal for developing countries. Although the UK has long talked the talk on making trade development friendly this has been stifled by the culture of the DTI, Department for Trade and Industry, the default position of which has been to bat for Britain in trade talks. If DFID is to take responsibility for trade talks this could indicate that Brown recognises that trade should not be just about narrow national interest but also about shaping fairer global rules for all not just the privileged few."
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