Moral Success of Trade Agreements Twofold, Say Bishops

Advancement of Human Dignity and Development

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WASHINGTON, D.C., OCT. 21, 2005 ( The moral measure of a trade agreement is in how it advances human dignity and development, concluded the bishops participating in an inter-American meeting.

The statements were made by the bishops who attended the «Trade, Growth and Poverty Reduction: Public Policy, Moral Aspects and Social Justice» conference, held from Sept. 7-8 in Washington.

The meeting was jointly organized by the U.S. bishops’ conference and the Latin American bishops’ council, and sponsored by the Inter-American Development Bank.

A trade agreement, wrote the bishops in a joint communiqué, should not be only judged on «the growth achieved and the products shipped, but the lives protected and the dignity enhanced, especially among the most vulnerable sectors.»

«We believe trade policies must be fashioned in ways that stimulate economic growth while at the same time giving priority to integral human development that builds solidarity, improves the common good of all, and in an essential way reduces poverty, exclusion and hunger,» the bishops said.

While acknowledging that the creativity and economic growth unleashed by increased global trade could strengthen the capacity of society to provide for the common good, the bishops warned that while «the market has its own logic … it does not have its own ethic.»

Regulations around things like intellectual property rights, access to technology and information, transparency and civil society participation, agricultural policies, labor standards, and environment regulations must promote sustainable development and promote the common good of all, especially the poor, they said.

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