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.
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.