From the Worldwide Faith News archives

WCC NEWS: Trade is for people says WCC

From "WCC Media" <>
Date Wed, 06 Sep 2006 14:42:34 +0200

World Council of Churches - News Release

Contact: +41 22 791 6153 +41 79 507 6363 For immediate release - 06/09/2006 10:46:26 AM


Trade should be for the benefit of people and people should not be sacrificed for the sake of trade. That was a key affirmation in the World Council of Churches (WCC) central committee statement on just trade, which calls on the churches "to encourage their governments to continue working for a new multilateral trade mechanism, with a new set of multilateral trade rules which are just and democratic".

The statement lamented the July 2006 breakdown of the Doha Round of trade talks within the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The Doha Development Round began with a ministerial-level meeting in Doha, Qatarin 2001, with subsequent ministerial meetings in Cancun, Mexico(2003), and Hong Kong, China (2005). The negotiations were aimed at lowering trade barriers around the world, permitting free trade between countries.

The breakdown occurred when big powers failed to agree on steps toward liberalising trade in farm and manufactured goods. Agriculture subsidies and tariffs have been the main obstacles to reaching a WTO deal, declared WTO director- general Pascal Lamy.

The collapse of the talks means that rich countries will continue capturing the lion's share of world trade flows, denying developing countries better access to rich markets and facilitating the way for the European Union and the United States to seek bilateral trade agreements to open other countries' markets. Consequently, weaker developing countries will be the worst affected, as they are not in a position to exercise any kind of leverage and can therefore be exploited, underlined the declaration.

The fact that developed industrialised countries succeeded in imposing their terms and conditions through the mechanisms of the WTO, choked up the possibility for developing nations to participate as equals in trade between nations, says the WCC statement.

Bishop Thomas F. Butler of the Church of England -a member of the central committee since 2003, and a member of the WCC Public Issues committee- commented that the WTO needs change to become a more democratic institution, perhaps also involving some civil society movements.

Trade rules and agreements must be built around the commitment to "protect and advance the interests of smaller, weaker and vulnerable states; encourage sustainable development and poverty eradication as defined by the people themselves; give primacy to peoples' right to food, water, the necessities of life, and protect the small producers to enable them to survive and thrive", the statement affirms.

They should also "abide by international norms and standards that guarantee fundamental human rights; strengthen respect for creation with ecological standards that safeguard the interests of future generations and the survival of the earth; and ensure equitable and just distribution of resources for all."

The statement concludes by affirming that the theological basis for the commitment to uphold and promote just trade is "the profound option of our faith for the 'least', the poor and the excluded".

For more information on WCC work on economic globalization and trade, see:

For information on the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance's (EAA) Global Trade Campaign, see:

More information on the WCC Central Committee meeting is available on the WCC website:

Additional information: Juan Michel, +41 22 791 6153 +41 79 507 6363

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The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, today the WCC brings together 348 Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other churches representing more than 560 million Christians in over 110 countries, and works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church. The WCC general secretary is Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia, from the Methodist Church in Kenya. Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.

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