MAFTTI uses a working definition of Fair Trade which is slightly adapted from that of Green America:
“Fair Trade is a system of exchange that honors producers, communities, consumers, and the environment. It is a model for the global economy rooted in people-to-people connections, justice, sustainability and accountability.”
Similar expressions of the essence of Fair Trade are used by the major national and international organizations in the global Fair Trade Movement, e.g.
World Fair Trade Association, Fairtrade International, Fair Trade USA, Fair Trade Federation, Fair Trade Resource Network, Fair World Project, Catholic Relief Services, Fairtrade Canada, Fairtrade Foundation (UK)
The Fair Trade Federation also has a website devoted to illustrating the Nine Principles governing the practices of its members.
Fair Trade Past and Futures
The text of MAFTTI Chair Paul Renshaw's Kessel Memorial Lecture at Minnesota State University-Mankato, March 27, 2012, can be found here.
The value of Fair Trade
Fair trade “makes the difference between whether my family eats or does not eat.”
(Blanca Rosa Molina, Nicaraguan coffee grower)
1. A Morality Tale
“When we arise in the morning…..at the table we drink coffee which is provided for us by a South American, or tea by a Chinese, or cocoa by a West African; before we leave for our jobs we are already beholden to more than half the world.” (Martin Luther King)
2. The Problem with International Trade
The mainstream trading system is failing the poor. “Free trade” fails because it favors the powerful. Rich countries become powerful in part because of their own protectionist policies. Fair trade offers long-term partnership in place of exploitation.
3. The Value of “Fair Trade”
Fair Trade bypasses intermediaries, raises incomes of small farmers and other producers and boosts local economies in poor countries. The fair trade farm-gate price is the key to a better life for hundreds of thousands of families.
A “Social Premium” is included in the price of Fair Trade certified products. It may be small but it makes a major difference when the rural poor put the money to work…..and it benefits young and old.
Fair Trade offers hope
For plantation workers, often among the poorest of the poor.
For coffee and tea-growers benefiting from an expansion of the market for Fairtrade certified brands.
For nut-growers and gatherers, for whom the terms of trade are very unfair.
For Indian cotton farmers whose rate of suicide is disturbingly high when faced with the pressures of pest control costs, subsidized imports and the competition of synthetics.
For the marketing of the 2000+ Fairtrade-certified products that are available - and the even greater number of other fair trade goods.
Fair Trade puts a human face on development by
Putting many of the best people-centered, ideas about development into practice – in cooperative, sustainable projects.
Making available quality products grown or made by people who have a real stake in what they are doing.
Empowering women and girls and contributing to ending child exploitation.
Encouraging community action that results in more children going to school, health standards rising and environmental degradation falling.
Spreading power away from large corporations, strengthening human rights and enabling ordinary people to have more control over their own lives.
Defending diversity, embracing partnerships which the mainstream economy often rejects (indigenous peoples, people with disabilities).
Challenging transnational trading companies, including supermarkets, to trade more fairly.
Source: “50 Reasons to Buy Fair Trade”
Miles Litvinoff & John Madeley
Pluto Press, London, 2007
The impact of Fair Trade
Fair Trade Labelling Organizations International (FLO) published its latest Monitoring and Evaluation Report in August. It contains much valuable information, based on 2008-9 data, on producers and Fair Trade certification.
A summary and link to the full report can be found here.
Fair Trade USA publishes annual Fair Trade impact reports on specific products. Click here.