A solution for Africa

Two of your proposals for "How to give Africa hope" (Leader, 11 February) will worsen conditions both on that continent and in the UK. Your call to open markets and cut subsidies in the north will increase the distortion of African economies towards attempting to provide us with cheap exports, rather than meeting their own food and industrial needs.

Dyson's planned relocation to Malaysia underscores how Asia will increasingly be the provider to rich countries, particularly now that China is in the World Trade Organisation. The latter's hi-tech, rock-bottom labour costs have meant that its clothing industry has set the target of China taking over 100 per cent of the world's exports by 2005. Where will that leave Africa's textile exports, or, indeed, ours?

Your other solution for Africa is to lift many of our restrictions on migrant workers. The first wave likely to be accepted will be even more of Africa's doctors, nurses and teachers: skilled people who we are already shamefully stealing from countries whose domestic needs are far greater than ours. Opening up the UK to wider migration, as you suggest, will be a gift to the extreme right, a disaster for racial harmony in this country, and will perpetuate the idea that salvation rests in coming north. The reality is that it must lie in improving the conditions that force people to leave home in the first place.

Colin Hines
East Twickenham, Middlesex