The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Church leaders seek funding for poor countries

Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop, joined 12 other Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders Dec. 1 in asking U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to urge the Bush administration to substantially increase U.S. assistance to developing countries as part of the Millennium Development Goals and other poverty-focused programs.

Meeting with Rice in Washington, D.C., the leaders emphasized ways the World Trade Organization’s current talks on trade negotiations in developing countries—the Doha Development Round—will impact poor people.

David Beckmann, an ELCA pastor and president of the advocacy group Bread for the World, led the religious leaders in calling for the trade round to focus on:

• Eliminating trade-distorting agricultural subsidies.

• Expanding market access for poor-country products.

• Giving poor countries the freedom to determine how they liberalize their economies.

• Increasing assistance that helps poor countries develop their capacity to participate in trade.

“Trade and aid are both important,” Beckmann said. “Aid can help poor countries in trade, and changes in trade policy can open opportunities for struggling people around the world to earn a decent living.”

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