In this issue we focus on a single theme which dominated the Ridley Hall Foundation conference: What Makes Trade Fair? Trade is a fundamental reality of life, in the ancient and modern world alike. With the G8 Summit fresh in our minds this exploration of different Christian perspectives provides thought-provoking contributions that add value to the current debate on fair trade.
Richard Higginson sets the scene with a cautionary tale from Biblical history. Ezekiel’s portrait of Tyre is a provocative picture of big city trade in the ancient world. Tyre’s judgment and fall, like Rome’s, may serve as a striking parable for the present day.
In an informative, scholarly paper Joan Lockwood O’Donovan addresses the injustice inherent in current international trade. She draws on the economic theories and moral requirements of medieval theologians to guide towards a market that is rational, just and divinely ordained.
Andrew Henley provides an economist’s view of Free and Fair Trade followed by a Christian perspective. He shows how ethical trade could promote human dignity and value, ensure human needs are met and allow for responsible stewardship of resources and talents. Christian Aid has been at the thick of the current Trade Justice campaign; their policy officer, Justin Macmullan, puts the case for fundamental changes to the rules that govern international trade.
Traidcraft’s Paul Chandler, whose conference address won particular acclaim, assesses the state and strategy of the fair trade movement – arguing that Christians have a key contribution to make both to the debate and process of ‘moving the fair trade agenda forward’.
Richard Higginson provides a summing up in which he outlines workshop contributions and indicates the main area of disagreement at the conference, concerning the effectiveness of protectionist policies. Finally, John Lovatt exercises an editor’s privilege by offering a dissenting view, making points not covered in the other papers, and suggesting an alternative model of ‘good business’.