Stop the Poverty. Stop the Terrorism; EXCLUSIVE Trade and Industry Secretary PATRICIA HEWITT Talks to GARY JONES

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AMERICA risks fuelling terrorism by failing to keep its promise to help the world's poorest countries, Cabinet Minister Patricia Hewitt warned yesterday.

Recruiting terrorists will be easier unless the US and Europe finally adopt fair and open trade policies, said the Trade Secretary.

But the Bush administration appears to have forgotten the lessons of September 11, when it expressed willingness to reach out to impoverished nations, she said.

In an interview with the Daily Mirror she said: "There certainly are people in the US and in the administration who understood that very carefully after September 11.

"I think they should remember that now.

"It was a time when the world pulled together.

"I think America realised that if we were going to have an international coalition against terrorism, it had to be underpinned by an international coalition for economic growth and prosperity.

"There is a huge amount more to do and American leadership on this issue is vital if we are to create a new economic world order."

She added: "This is a make or break time for the future of our world.

"If Europe and America don't change then we will deepen the gulf between the developed and developing world. We will make the world a poorer place and we will also make the world a more dangerous place.

"Although terrorism is not necessarily the result of poverty - there are many factors behind international terrorism - there is no doubt at all that it is much easier to recruit people to terrorism when there is massive injustice and poverty in the world."

Speaking in the run-up to the World Trade Organisation meeting in Cancun, Mexico, in September she called for richer countries to make dramatic changes to improve the lot of 1.2billion people in the world who survive on 60p a day.

She expressed frustration at the slow progress in bringing down trade barriers, tariffs and agricultural subsidies in the US, Europe and Japan.

Ms Hewitt said it was "crazy and immoral" to spend pounds 1billion in the last 10 years subsidising sugar production in Europe while it is produced for half the price in Mozambique.

"So our consumers are paying more than they need and our taxpayers have to pay to subsidise the sugar beet farmers.

"Mozambique, which is one of the poorest countries in the world, can produce sugar at half the cost of Europe.

"Yet we refuse to buy their sugar because we want to keep our own farmers in business.

"We then export our subsidised sugar to developing country markets and we lock the Mozambican farmers out of those markets as well. It is a double whammy and a scandalous situation."

Eighteen months ago trade ministers from 142 countries tried to hammer out a new world trade deal at Doha in the Gulf state of Qatar.

But progress since then has been disappointingly slow. …