By defending healthy localism and its protective consequences, it might seem we are condemning international trade. Quite the contrary.
Church doctors are clear in demonstrating that natural and positive law all support the need for trade, whether national or international, since denying necessities to people would violate the Golden Rule of doing unto others what you would have them do unto you. There would seem to be a certain intemperance in asserting that all communities must survive only on the resources at hand. Reason indicates that trade is a benefit to a society that suffers from various wants.
In addition, the fact that God did not distribute all resources equally makes trade necessary. Raw materials such as precious stones or rare minerals are universally sought yet concentrated in particular regions. Certain local medicines or goods are needed for the health and general welfare of peoples. Above all, scarcity of basic foodstuffs and other vital commodities in times of crisis makes international trade essential for relieving suffering and furthering the common good.
International trade can also further cultural ends. Trade involving fine arts, crafts, or luxury items is wholesome since it facilitates the healthy interpenetration of cultures. Such items are also helpful to those in leadership positions or elites who, by force of their functions, need to understand the distinct mentality of those in other nations. Adopting a calculated cosmopolitan attitude facilitates this process without harming the distinctive local character of the person.
Thus, international trade should and must exist. It should be both ample and common, especially when satisfying basic needs. However, it should not dominate or destroy local culture and production.
(Excerpt from Return to Order)