Church leaders call for reform of trade laws

 The Vatican's Representative to the World Trade Organization (WTO), Archbishop Diarmuid Martin and Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, have told the government international trade rules must be reformed. Speaking to a group of MP's at a Parliamentary Friends of CAFOD meeting in the House of Commons on Wednesday night, the Archbishop said the World Trade Organisation Summit in Doha next week provided a vital opportunity for change. He said: "The outcomes of the Summit must mark a clear step on the path to a new and more inclusive vision of world trade, in which all can take part on an equal footing. Failure to do so will put the credibility of the WTO and of the universal multilateral trading system at stake. "Trade is an essential concern of all of us who want a more equitable world. Much of the progress we have made in helping poor countries through aid, debt relief and development is destroyed by unjust trade rules. Rich countries use trade rules to open up markets of poor nations, but yet protect their own. This hypocrisy cannot continue." Archbishop Martin issued a challenge to both pro- and anti-globalization advocates. "We need the World Trade Organization," he said, "and because we need it, we need to change it . . . the primary focus of the summit must be to address the factors which have prevented the poorest countries from achieving the benefits they hoped for from trade liberalization." Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor spoke at the meeting about the need to meet the International Development Targets endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly. He said the crucial target is to reduce the proportion of people living in absolute poverty by half by the year 2015. The Cardinal said we must "will the means" to achieve these target, "Governments of the rich world must be coherent in this by ensuring that the financial flows necessary to keep the promises are in place. This means first and foremost fairer trade rules to boost the income of poor countries." CAFOD's Deputy Director Pat Jones said, "The scandal of trade rules that keep millions of people trapped in poverty must end. 800 million people still don't have enough food to eat. Governments have a golden opportunity in Doha to change a patently unjust system with its one rule for the rich and one rule for the poor. Trade rules must work for all."

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