TRADE Act called ‘new path forward’

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The United Methodist General Board of Church & Society is among the endorsers of a letter to members of the U.S. House of Representatives that supports reshaping U.S. trade policy through the “Trade Reform, Accountability, Development & Employment (TRADE) Act,” H.R. #3012. The letter, drafted by the Interfaith Working Group on Trade & Investment (IWG) urges the legislators to become a sponsor, joining the bill’s 106 original co-sponsors.

The letter says the TRADE Act “offers a new path forward” for U.S. trade policy. “This legislation maps a fair path forward, explaining the kinds of provisions that we all want to see in a good trade agreement,” according to the letter.

This legislation maps a fair path forward.

IWG is an alliance of religious denominations, communities and organizations bringing the voices of communities of faith to public policy discussions on international trade and investment. “Many of us see the effect of trade policies firsthand through living and working with the poorest communities in Africa, Asia and Latin America,” the letter stresses. “As religious communities, we believe that economic development for the world’s poor and marginalized people should be a core consideration of U.S. and international trade policy.”

The letter asserts that U.S. trade policy has often had a detrimental impact on poor communities in both the United States, and “even more so” on those in the developing world.

Put people first

“U.S. trade policies and agreements should put people first,” the letter declares, “and further genuine social and economic development for our neighbors around the world, while preserving and creating good jobs here at home.”

The letter states that trade agreements should support, not hinder, governments in adopting policies to protect food sovereignty, public health and the natural environment. Trade policies must strike a balance between creating a predictable structure for international trade and preserving the policy space necessary for governments to foster and secure economic, social and human development for all their citizens, according to the letter.

The TRADE Act upholds the principle that trade should be genuinely pro-development.

“In addition to addressing key issues around the impact of U.S. trade policy on labor rights and environmental protections,” the letter states, “the TRADE Act upholds the principle that trade should be genuinely pro-development. The TRADE Act recognizes that U.S. trade agreements with developing countries should promote decent livelihoods, people-centered sustainable development, and the alleviation of poverty.”

The letter points out that H.R. #3012 prioritizes food security as well as investment policies that support development. “These goals serve a vital humanitarian objective, as well as the long-term interests of the United States,” it states. “When our global neighbors experience true human security and a more hopeful future, people in the United States will likewise be more secure.”

Key provisions

The TRADE Act, according to the letter, offers support for investment provisions that “preserve the ability of each country … to regulate foreign investment in a manner consistent with the needs and priorities of the country.” The letter calls these provisions key to allowing all countries the policy space needed to manage their own economic development.

“We are particularly impressed by provisions that maintain and lift up the right of developing countries to implement policies they deem necessary to ensure food security and sustainable livelihoods for small-holder farmers,” states the letter. “A significant majority of the world’s poor make their living through agriculture. It is vital that governments have a broad array of tools available to them to support these men and women.”

Among other endorsers of the letter are American Friends Service Committee, Church World Service, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office, NETWORK: A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, Presbyterian Church, (USA), Washington Office and United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries.

IWG is a Washington-based working group with representatives from organizations committed to asserting a stronger presence of communities of faith in public policy discussions on international trade and investment.Interfaith Working Group can be contacted at (202) 635-2757 ext. 134.

Letter to the Editor