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Fair Trade

Author: Sandra Kruger ~ Fair Trade South Africa

( Article Type: Explanation )

Fair Trade is a trading partnership – based on dialogue, transparency and respect – that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalised producers and workers – especially in the south. Fair trade organisations (backed by consumers) are actively engaged in supporting producers, raising awareness and campaigning for changes in the rules and practice of conventional international trade.

Principles of Fair Trade

Fair price
Premium to invest in development
Direct long-term trading relationships
Access to financial and technical assistance
Capacity-building and empowerment
Environmentally sustainable production
Working conditions are healthy and safe
Equal employment opportunities for all
Transparency and accountability

Fair trade is both an international movement and an alternative trading system.

Fair trade was started by churches and NGOs in Europe to ensure that small farmers and workers in developing countries get fair compensation for their work, and can invest in improving their lives. Two main types of fair trade organisations have developed over the years: Alternative Trade Organisations (ATO), which trade directly with producers; and Fairtrade Labelling Organisations, which promote labelled fairtrade products and monitor producers and traders.

Fair trade products carry a special label that guarantees to the consumer that the products have been produced and traded under fair conditions. Consumers pay a higher price and premium for these products. The premium is used for investing in sustainable development. Some people buy fair trade products because they do not want to buy products that may have been produced by exploited workers. For other people, it is a way to actively help people in poor countries. Fair trade organisations, supported by a network of conscious consumers, raise awareness about the benefits of fair trade for producers and workers in the South and promote Fairtrade-labelled products.

The Fairtrade Labelling Organisation (FLO) was formed in 1997 and is the worldwide fair trade standard setting and certification organisation. It permits more than one million producers, workers and their dependants in 50 countries to benefit from labelled Fairtrade products.

Members of the FINE network
FLO ~ Fairtrade Labelling Organisation
IFAT ~ International Fair Trade Association
NEWS! ~ Network of European World Shops
EFTA ~ European Fair Trade Association

FLO guarantees that products sold anywhere in the world with a Fairtrade label marketed by a National Initiative conforms to Fairtrade standards and contributes to the development of disadvantaged producers and workers (see for further information).