In a private Oval Office meeting yesterday Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington urged President George W. 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 in his notes to White House media. “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 Dec. 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.
The cardinal lauded the proposed changes in United States agricultural policies and their anticipated impact on world trade, and he 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.”
In his remarks to the White House media, the cardinal cited Pope Benedict’s recent call to those participating in the Hong Kong meeting to focus on the needs of the poor and the disadvantaged.
“At the same time, trade alone is not enough in the fight against poverty,” he said. “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.”