Fair Trade is:
- An alternative trading partnership based on the principles of economic and social justice including transparency and respect
- A way for consumers to support better labor rights and environmental advocacy through everyday shopping
- Better prices, working conditions, and wages for small producers
- Empowering women and other marginalized workers
Who does it benefit?
- Fair Trade works with marginalized populations especially in rural areas where nearly 75% of the world’s poorest live
- Small farmers and artisans- through direct partnerships between buyers and producers, fair trade is a reliable way for farmers and artisans to sell their products and earn money for their families and communities
- Workers- they are paid fairly for their labor in safe environments and treated as people, not just assets to a corporation
- Women- a large number of garment workers and farmers in developing countries are women
- Children- kids are protected by their country’s local laws and social norms including the right to security, education, and play
- Traders/companies- fair trade offers companies a credible way to ensure that their trade has a positive impact for the people at the end of the supply chain
- Environment- it encourages farming and production practices that are environmentally sound
- Shoppers- they can purchase items in line with their values and principles
Free Trade vs. Fair Trade
Why Fair Trade?
Fair Trade is NOT free trade. Free trade allows for the lowering of tariffs, quotas, labor principles, and environmental standards in order to easily trade between nations without much constraint. It aids in the free flow of capital and the tapping of cheaper foreign labor markets. This enables corporations to maximize their profits without necessarily taking into consideration the rights and livelihoods of the people who make or grow the traded products.
Fair trade is an alternative to free trade, offering farmers and producers in developing countries a better price for their work. It is benefitting more than 7.5 million artisans and farmers in over 60 countries, especially in rural areas where nearly 75% of the world’s most marginalized and poorest people live.
Right now, the rights and livelihoods of people are under attack by two pending free trade agreements- the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The TPP is a secret trade agreement currently being negotiated by a minority of the US congress, 11 other countries, and over 600 corporate officials. The articles in the agreement are statues that would protect corporate interests and have negative effects on small producers, local jobs, and people-to-people interactions. Click here to read more about the TPP and TTIP.
The fair trade movement provides a unique opportunity for small producers to get organized for better prices, working conditions and wages. It empowers women and supports transparency and sustainable development. We as consumers have a responsibility to condemn a system that relies on over-working individuals in compromising, unsafe working situations. Wealth is distributed not to the workers, but to importers, merchants, and ultimately corporations. Every time we purchase a product we endorse the entirety of the process that comprised the making of that item. We have the power to change the system! Buy fair trade; know where your products come from, who made them, and if their work can support a dignified lifestyle! Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Fair Trade Labels In the United States, products can be certified fair trade by several different labeling organizations. Definitions of fair trade may vary depending on the organization, but most operate based on basic principles such as the World Fair Trade Organization’s 10 principles of fair trade.
Every time you make a purchase please check the package and see if you can spot a fair trade logo, which will ensure that the company you’re supporting is committed to providing a fair deal to its artisans or producers. If you are interested in learning more about labeling concerning multi-ingredient products (like chocolate bars), click here. For more information on the different fair trade labels, check out this handy guide!