For many years progressive religious organizations have been calling for legislation that would make international trade more fair and less punitive to poor and developing nations of the global south. You may recall that a resolution encouraging President Obama to negotiate a more fair and just version of the North American Free Trade Agreement was passed in this month's General Synod.
Finally a bill that contains most of our concerns has been introduced in Congress. It is officially called the "Trade Reform, Accountability, Development and Employment," or "TRADE" Act. It is supported by all of the faith-based activist organizations that you would know and trust, including Church World Service, Bread for the World, Jubilee USA, and the Justice and Witness Ministries of the United Church of Christ.
Below is our call for you to write your senators and representative to encourage them to support this bill.
After you have read about it, and wish to send an electronic letter to Congress, click here.
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If you want to join the Jubilee Justice network, click here.
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The four main ministries of Jubilee Justice are:
(1) continuing the campaign against damaging global debt and trade practices (see the post below);
(2) promoting the Fair Trade Project with Equal Exchange;
(3) "Free" Trade and Immigration (and how one causes the other);
(4) and a new emphasis: helping local churches plan and organize for better economic justice ministries. Get in touch with us if you think this is something your church would be interested in.
The JubileeJustice Network needs your help, encouragement and prayers.
Support Trade Justice
“If you oppress poor people, you insult the God who made them; but kindness shown to the poor is an act of worship.” Proverbs 14:31
The Biblical emphasis on concern for the poor leads us, as people of faith, to advocate for governmental policies that assist and empower people struggling to overcome poverty. Tragically, the approach to trade pursued by our government over past 20 years has often had a detrimental impact on poor communities in the developing world. These policies have stymied economic development in poor countries and forced millions of family farmers off of their land, creating poverty, despair and mass migration.
Call on your elected officials to support the TRADE Act!
The Trade Act will:
- Require a comprehensive review of existing trade agreements including NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement) and the WTO (World Trade Organization).
- Spell out standards for labor and environmental protections, food and product safety and remedies that must be included in new trade pacts.
- Preserve the rights of states and countries to enact legislation to protect the environment, public health, and local economies.
- Ensure fair treatment of agricultural workers in each country; protect the right to establish policies that require farmers to receive fair remuneration for management and labor that occurs on farms; and protect the right to prevent dumping of agricultural commodities at below the cost of production.
- Ensure that the access of the public to essential medicines and to technologies critical to preventing climate change is not obstructed by any provision of the trade agreement relating to the protection of intellectual property rights.
- Require the president to submit re-negotiation plans for current trade pacts prior to negotiating new agreements and prior to congressional consideration of pending agreements.
- Restore congressional oversight of trade agreements.
On June 24 in the House of Representatives Rep. Mike Michaud and 107 other co-sponsors introduced HR 3012, the Trade Reform, Accountability, Development and Employment (TRADE) Act. This bill is the culmination of a broad effort to re-shape U.S. trade policy and ensure that our trade policy reflects our values as a people. The current list of co-sponsors is up to 110, but more are needed to demonstrate enough support to bring it to a vote. Although legislation has not been introduced in the Senate, Sen. Sherrod Brown (OH) is working on legislation that will call for similar evaluation and reform of U.S. trade policy.
Much of the debate about the impact of U.S. trade policy on developing countries has focused on the issues of labor rights and environmental protections. While the TRADE Act emphasizes these vital concerns, it also lifts up a third dimension of evaluation and implementation.
U.S. trade policies and agreements should contribute to people’s livelihoods, sustainable human development, and the alleviation of poverty in developing countries. We support in FAIR trade not only to meet humanitarian objectives, but also the long-term interests of the United States. When our global neighbors experience true human security and a more hopeful future, people in the U.S. will be more secure.
Who are we?JubileeJustice began as a resolution to cancel Third World debts at the Annual Meeting of the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ in 1999. We are now a national network of faith and justice activists seeking to change economic models which are based on values anathema to our faith traditions. Click here to join us.
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