WASHINGTON (December 1, 2005) – In a private Oval Office meeting today Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington today urged President Bush to ensure that trade negotiations taking place this month in Hong Kong protect the interests of the poor around the world.
"The fight against poverty around the world is vital to establishing solidarity among peoples and nations," said Cardinal McCarrick after the meeting. "Global trade rules, when framed from the perspective of the 'least among us,' can lead to more equitable prosperity and stability in a world where growing inequality and instability are very often dangerous realities."
Cardinal McCarrick's meeting with the President comes days before the sixth ministerial conference of the World Trade Organization, slated for December 13-18 in Hong Kong. The current Doha Round of negotiations, begun in Doha, Qatar, in 2001, was expected to promote human development in poor countries through global trade, something critics claim is not currently happening.
Specifically, Cardinal McCarrick urged the President to work to "substantially reduce, if not eliminate, trade-distorting federal subsidies while protecting small and medium-sized farms in the United States." He comments echoed an October 21, 2005, letter to the President from Bishop William S. Skylstad, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (see www.usccb.org/sdwp/international/BushLetteronDoha.pdf) urging the President to "go the extra mile on behalf of the United States in seeking a just outcome of the Doha Round for the world's poor."
The full text of Cardinal McCarrick's remarks to the White House media follows:
"I welcomed the opportunity to meet with President Bush today to discuss the importance of international trade in the fight against global poverty and hunger. I reiterated the words of Bishop William S. Skylstad, President of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, who, in his letter of October 21, urged the President to 'fight not just for the interests of the people of the United States in current [trade] negotiations, but to protect the interests of the poor around the world who have too little access to the negotiating table.'
"Just a few days ago, our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, issued a call to those participating in next month's meeting of World Trade Organization members in Hong Kong to focus on the needs of the poor and the disadvantaged. The Pope expressed his hope that 'a sense of responsibility and solidarity with the most disadvantaged will prevail, so that narrow interests and the logic of power will be set aside.'
"President Bush has proposed major changes in US agricultural policies that are important for establishing a more just global trading system. This is a courageous and necessary step in the right direction. The Church looks forward to working with the President and others to ensure that meaningful reforms are reflected in the next Farm Bill that substantially reduce, if not eliminate, trade-distorting federal subsidies while protecting small and medium-sized farms in the United States."
"The fight against poverty around the world is vital to establishing solidarity among peoples and nations. Global trade rules, when framed from the perspective of the 'least among us,' can lead to more equity, prosperity and stability in a world where growing inequality and instability are very often dangerous realities.
"At the same time, trade alone is not enough in the fight against poverty. Our U.S. Bishops' Catholic Campaign Against Global Poverty addresses trade, aid and debt relief. Poor countries need the support of more generous foreign aid and broader debt relief so that they can invest in education and health care for their people and in building their capacity for trade. On this World AIDS Day, we welcome the President's leadership in promoting more foreign aid and debt relief for poor countries, including funding for the fight against HIV-AIDS, and urge him to build on this work and to secure the necessary resources."
"There remain significant challenges in reaching a just outcome in the current round of trade negotiations. The Administration's proposals for Hong Kong head in the right direction, but the Conference hopes that the United States can help guarantee that increased trade benefits those whose needs are the greatest. In this regard, we urge creation of a flexible and equitable trade environment for poor countries through robust special and differential treatment. I echo the call of Bishop Skylstad: 'I urge [the President] to go the extra mile on behalf of the United States in seeking a just outcome of the Doha Round for the world's poor.'"