19 September 2003

Methodist President regrets collapse of Cancun talks and 'scandal' of trade rules

The President of the Methodist Conference, the Rev Dr Neil Richardson, has called for renewed efforts in campaigning on trade justice in the wake of the collapse of World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks, as poor countries proved they could - and would - stand up to their rich counterparts.

Dr Richardson said: "We deeply regret the breakdown of trade talks in Cancun. These talks were a reminder of one of the biggest moral challenges of our time. The conditions under which the poorest nations of the world are obliged to trade with the rich are scandalous.

"The major economic players have shown themselves unwilling to act in the face of unfair trade rules that keep millions of farmers locked in poverty. This behaviour cannot continue in an era in which we need to live more as members of the same family and rather less as competitors.

"The Methodist Conference in July called for the WTO to work to eliminate those trade barriers which are designed to protect people who are already rich, and also to encourage poor countries to manage their own trade policies in order to reduce poverty. The Conference put its full weight behind the Trade Justice Movement to promote rules that take into account the needs of all."

Dr Richardson welcomed the efforts of Methodist organisations such as MAYC World Action and MRDF to encourage Christians behind the coalition of support to change trade rules. He said: "I urge all Methodists to get behind the Trade Justice Movement, in calling for trade rules weighted to benefit poor people and the planet".

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