New user? Register here:
Email Address:
Password:
Retype Password:
First Name:
Last Name:
Existing user? Login here:
 
 
Comment >

Fair trade is not for wimps

*
THE Financial Times called the Archbishop of Canterbury’s sermon for the 60th anniversary of Christian Aid (News, 29 April) a “comic cliché”. His crime, apparently, was not to have been enthusiastic enough about the benefits of free trade and liberal economic theory. Instead, he did what “leftish” clerics are wont to do: “wringing his hands about social problems”.

What total rubbish. What I heard in that sermon was Dr Williams accepting the basic principle that trade is the engine of wealth creation, and arguing that “universal trade liberalisation may offer fresh markets and promise overall increases of wealth”.

Notwithstanding the qualification “may”, even the Globalization Institute, whose attack on fair trade was the point of departure for Dr Williams’s consideration of trade justice, welcomed the sermon. “I’m delighted that the Church of England is starting to recognise that the debate is more complex than first imagined, and this sermon is an encouraging step,” said its president, Alex Singleton.

What Dr Williams rightly complained about was that many in the West talk about free trade, but are unprepared to deal with its real consequences, even in their own businesses. “The rich protect their markets while talking about the virtues of free trade,” he said.

Only last week, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) confirmed that EU sugar exports were illegal. After complaints by a number of poorer sugar-producing countries, the WTO has found that Europe has been dumping millions of tonnes of subsidised sugar on the global market, thus depressing the world price. No wonder poorer countries are unable to compete. If there is a moral responsibility for our new Government, it is surely that we must increase market access for poorer countries.

Even so, Dr Williams was recognising that freeing trade comes at a cost. After the WTO ruling, the sugar producers Tate & Lyle saw their share price fall by 15.5p. That’s a measure of the cost for the West — a cost we continue to try to avoid paying. For a developing country, and specifically for individuals and families with no state social security to fall back on, the cost is often devastating — as it can be for the environment, too.

Despite its capacity for overall wealth creation, when the lives of many vulnerable people are at stake, the unquestioning adherence to free trade is a dangerous extremism. To suggest that an acknowledgement of this social cost is limp-wristed Anglicanism is a cheap shot, unworthy of the FT.

The Revd Dr Giles Fraser is Team Rector of Putney.
Press


 

Job of the week

Director

North West

Director: transforming Wigan This ground breaking church commissioners funded project offers a motivated, inspirational and talented clergy person the oppourtunity to make their mark. Over seven years...  Read More

Signup for job alerts
Top feature

Christian fiction in a novel form

Christian fiction in a novel form

Catherine Fox could not find a publisher for her latest novel, until she decided to serialise it as a blog. She talks to Sarah Meyrick  Subscribe to read more

Question of the week
If you had a vote, would you opt for Scottish independence?

To prevent multiple voting, we now ask readers to be logged in. This is free, quick and easy, honestly. Click here to login or register

Top comment

Reminder: never buy a girl a pink Bible

Peter Graystone suggests some unexpected role-models for Christian girls  Subscribe to read more

Tue 16 Sep 14 @ 11:34
RT @CT100Books10 days to go until we reveal numbers 100 to 51! Make sure you don't miss out on any issue > http://t.co/8hqq4ZVyrA (prices from £21.20)

Mon 15 Sep 14 @ 17:25
UPDATED: 'No hidden agenda' behind sexuality conversations http://t.co/BnzGbuyVXX