It can only be good that many establishments, including the borough councils, pride themselves in acquiring Fairtrade status.
However, in many cases the Fairtrade is used as a high profile opportunity to show a shallow feel for the diversity and empathy for the developing countries by touching on the effects rather than addressing the cause of unfair trade such as unfair tariff or import quota.
Fairtrade is primarily a test of the credibility of the World Trade Organisation, and its ability to deliver on its promises to developing countries to liberalise trade and secure a fair system of trading.
Cotton is a prime example where rich countries' trade policies depress world prices and cut into the livelihood of millions in developing countries (since cotton is a labour-intensive business) leading to a situation where, for example, the entire GDP of Burkina Faso, where 2 million people depend on growing cotton, is lower than subsidies that US cotton farmers benefit from.
Therefore, the Fairtrade should not just be to promoting the goods and materials produced in the developing countries but must have the capacity to address some of the following issues, well articulated by the interesting parties over the years:
- Creating Opportunities for Economically Disadvantaged Producers - poverty reduction through trade forms and terms and by enabling producers to move from income insecurity and poverty to economic self-sufficiency and ownership
- Transparency and Accountability - in management and commercial relations, being accountable to all stakeholders
- Fair Trading Practices - recognizing the financial disadvantages producers and suppliers face
- Payment of a Fair Price - that has been mutually agreed by all through dialogue and participation
- Ensuring no Child Labour and Forced Labour is used in production
- Ensuring Good Working Conditions providing a safe and healthy working environment, and good working hours and conditions
- Providing Capacity Building to develop the skills and capabilities of the producers
- Promoting Fair Trade through honest advertising and marketing techniques
- Respect for the Environment using production technologies that seek to reduce energy consumption
As our trade agreements currently in place via EU will need to be renegotiated after leaving the EU, the interests of poor farmers and workers must be properly considered in any policy reviews to avoid harm to livelihoods.
The government must listen to the Fairtrade Foundation and fully uphold its international development commitments in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and ensure that the impact of the decision to leave EU does not fall on those least able to bear it.