Monday, May 02, 2005

Fair Trade or Free Trade?

Here are some excerpts from a sermon given by Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of Christian Aid;

...Because the scandal of our current global economy is not simply that it leaves children dying, that it leaves over a billion in extreme need. It is that it reinforces the assumption that trust is not possible and natural; it reinforces a picture of the world in which rivalry or mutual isolation are the obvious forms of behaviour. The rich protect their markets while talking about the virtues of free trade. Global agencies have often held up sustainable economic growth in poor countries by insisting that it can only be allowed to develop in the way they dictate. Debt repayment has constantly distorted the possibilities of stability, let alone growth. The transparency and democracy so desperately needed in many disadvantaged nations are not likely to develop on such soil...

...Christian Aid has learned and shared with the rest of us some of the depth of spiritual liberty and celebration that arises even in the middle of the most appalling privation; it isn't that prosperity makes us godly (you may have noticed). But it is still true that in whole societies poverty is corrosive and so - no less so - is the despairing assumption that the world is organised in the interests of others. We must pray that at least the next sixty years of this body will continue to prod and irritate and inspire all of the churches to work with growing urgency for a joyful world, a world overflowing in expressions of thanks to God. Our hope is the glory of new creation, after all - not justice alone but justice that is constantly being revitalised by the grateful longing to share and to give to others the freedom to give. That is how God has treated us; that is how we are to relate to each other. The bread of God is in our hands; it is given to be broken for the world.
The Globalization Institute's report entitled "Trade Justice or Free Trade?" can be found here. Alex Singleton, of GI, comments on the Archbishop's sermon here. The Times of London is a bit more critical of Dr. William's reservations regarding free trade. You can find more info on the trade justice movement here.

Fair trade vs. free trade; what are your thoughts?


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