What is fair trade?
Fair trade means an equitable and fair partnership between marketers in Western Countries and producers in Developing Countries. A fair trade partnership works to provide low-income farmers and artisans with a living wage for their work.
The Criteria of Fair Trade
There are many different aspects to “fair trade” and making sure that a fair trade partnership is viable and making a difference. Below is a list of fair trade criteria for us all to think about. We may take a lot of these issues for granted in our society but we need to ensure that our imports are shown the same respect.
- Paying a fair wage to workers, relevant to the local cost of living
- Making sure there are opportunities for advancement for employees
- Equal opportunities to all employees, including women, people from disadvantaged back grounds and people with disabilities.
- Using practices that look after environmental sustainability
- Long-term trade relationships
- Healthy and safe working conditions
- Financial and technical support should be offered to producers where possible
Issues of Fair Trade
There are a number of issues surrounding fair trade, and the bigger picture is a scary one for developing countries if the issues are not addressed and fair trade policies put in place globally. Food for thought.......
- Commodity prices are set by rich developed countries. Coffee beans, cotton and cacao for example are all produced in developing countries, if prices are set low, big companies then sell to consumers and make huge profits, leaving producers poorer.
- Competition in industries such as fashion and food in the western world means that bigger companies are trying to bring their prices down to give themselves a competitive edge. The knock on effect of this can be demand to the producers to make cheaper and cheaper products, in turn worsening working conditions with longer hours, faster work rates and lower pay.
- Patents imposed in developed countries on items such as software, medicine and seeds push prices up and can often take the cost of such items out of reach in poorer countries.
- Subsidised produce from developed countries, if dumped in to developing countries, can drive down the prices of local produce and have devastating effects on local economies.
- Western countries can control world market share by regulating export taxes. As a result developing countries can be forced in to exporting raw, primary industry materials, which give far less returns than secondary industry products.
Buying fair trade products makes a real difference for the fair trade farmers and workers in developing countries. Fair trade means a better future for producers, workers, their families and communities in these countries. In addition to providing a fair and stable price for their products, fair trade is helping producers and their communities build better roads, access health care and send their children to school. Fair trade also enables them to grow and develop their businesses, ensuring they can improve life for their families and communities well into the future.
Trade has the power to generate incredible wealth and elevate people from poverty!