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Fair Trade – Global economy, human rights

While we experience hope in the many efforts
toward greater collaboration and peace-making
in the human community,
we see also that expanding globalization
is widening the gap
between rich and poor.
– SSND Call to Transformation, 2002

About Fair Trade
In today's world economy, where profits rule and small-scale producers are left out of the bargaining process, farmers, craft producers, and other workers are often left without resources or hope for their future. Fair Trade helps exploited producers escape from this cycle and gives them a way to maintain their traditional lifestyles with dignity. Fair Trade encompasses a range of goods, from agricultural products from the global South like coffee, chocolate, tea, and bananas, to handcrafts like clothing, household items, and decorative arts.

The Principles of Fair Trade are:

From Global Exchange's Fair Trade website

CAFTA – Central America Free Trade Agreement
CAFTA contains no meaningfully enforceable standards that might prevent countries from lowering their public health, workplace safety, and environmental laws in order to attract investment. Experience with NAFTA has shown how corporations use this arrangement to pit workers in each country against one another in a "race-to-the-bottom" in wages and environmental protections. Trade agreements are presented to the public as a vehicle for economic development, but when these agreements fail to condition trade access on enforcement of international labor and environmental standards, only corporate CEOs see the benefits.

Following a brief ceremony with trade ministers from Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Honduras, the agreement is signed, sealed and all but delivered to Congress for a vote. If passed, the Central American Free Trade Agreement would undermine workers rights, drive countless family farmers off their land, and expose communities throughout Central America and the U.S. to privatization of essential public services like water, electricity, health care and education.

The SSND Central America Committee of the Baltimore Province, an informed group on issues relating to Central America, opposes CAFTA and is urging Members of Congress to take a stand against the failed free trade model and demand a new approach to trade that respects human rights.

Actions You Can Do
Continue to learn more about the global economy and plight of many farmers in the US and in other countries. The “Fair Trade Certified” label or the Fair Trade Federation logo on a product can identify Fair Trade products.

About Economic Justice for All
Let us reflect on these words:

Catholic tradition calls for a “society of work, enterprise and participation” which “is not directed against the market, but demands that the market be appropriately controlled by the forces of society and by the state to assure that the basic needs of the whole society are satisfied,” according to Pope John Paul II.

All of economic life needs to recognize the fact we are all God’s children and members of one human family, called to exercise a clear priority for “the least among us.”

Links for Additional Information about Fair Trade

If you would like additional information about fair trade or wish to organize a workshop or invite a speaker to address this topic, please contact Sister Ethel Howley at 410-377-2071 or ehowley@ssndba.org.

Last updated: Friday, 29 July, 2005 6:30 PM

School Sisters of Notre Dame, Baltimore Province
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