About Fair Trade
Fair Trade defined:
Fair trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, which seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers – especially in the South. Fair trade organizations (backed by consumers) are engaged actively in supporting producers, awareness raising and in campaigning for changes in the rules and practice of conventional international trade.
This definition was created by FINE, an informal Association of the four main fair trade networks (Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International, International Fair Trade Association, Network of European Worldshops and European Fair Trade Association)
Key fair trade principles:
Fair Trade Federation members fully commit to the following principles in all of the transactions:
- Create Opportunities for Economically and Socially Marginalized Producers – Fair Trade is a strategy for poverty alleviation and sustainable development. Members create social and economic opportunities through trading partnerships with marginalized producers. Members place the interests of producers and their communities as the primary concern of their enterprise.
- Develop Transparent and Accountable Relationships– Fair Trade involves relationships that are open, fair, consistent, and respectful. Members show consideration for both customers and producers by sharing information about the entire trading chain through honest and proactive communication. They create mechanisms to help customers and producers feel actively involved in the trading chain. If problems arise, members work cooperatively with fair trade partners and other organizations to implement solutions.
- Build Capacity– Fair Trade is a means to develop producers’ independence. Members maintain long-term relationships based on solidarity, trust, and mutual respect, so that producers can improve their skills and their access to markets. Members help producers to build capacity through proactive communication, financial and technical assistance, market information, and dialogue. They seek to share lessons learned, to spread best practices, and to strengthen the connections between communities, including among producer groups.
- Promote Fair Trade– Fair Trade encourages an understanding by all participants of their role in world trade. Members actively raise awareness about Fair Trade and the possibility of greater justice in the global economic system. They encourage customers and producers to ask questions about conventional and alternative supply chains and to make informed choices. Members demonstrate that trade can be a positive force for improving living standards, health, education, the distribution of power, and the environment in the communities with which they work.
- Pay Promptly and Fairly– Fair Trade empowers producers to set prices within the framework of the true costs of labor time, materials, sustainable growth, and related factors. Members take steps to ensure that producers have the capacity to manage this process. Members comply with or exceed international, national, local, and, where applicable, Fair Trade Minimum standards for their employees and producers. Members seek to ensure that income is distributed equitably at all times, particularly equal pay for equal work by women and men. Members ensure prompt payment to all of their partners. Producers are offered access to interest-free pre-harvest or pre-production advance payment.
- Support Safe and Empowering Working Conditions – Fair Trade means a safe and healthy working environment free of forced labor. Throughout the trading chain, Members cultivate workplaces that empower people to participate in the decisions that affect them. Members seek to eliminate discrimination based on race, caste, national origin, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation, union membership, political affiliation, age, marital, or health status. Members support workplaces free from physical, sexual, psychological, or verbal harassment or abuse.
- Ensure the Rights of Children – Fair Trade means that all children have the right to security, education, and play. Throughout the trading chain, Members respect and support the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as local laws and social norms. Members disclose the involvement of children in production. Members do not support child trafficking and exploitative child labor.
- Cultivate Environmental Stewardship – Fair Trade seeks to offer current generations the ability to meet their needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Members actively consider the implications of their decisions on the environment and promote the responsible stewardship of resources. Members reduce, reuse, reclaim, and recycle materials wherever possible. They encourage environmentally sustainable practices throughout the entire trading chain.
- Respect Cultural Identity – Fair Trade celebrates the cultural diversity of communities, while seeking to create positive and equitable change. Members respect the development of products, practices, and organizational models based on indigenous traditions and techniques to sustain cultures and revitalize traditions. Members balance market needs with producers’ cultural heritage.
Fair Trade Organizations:
The Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO), created in 1997, is the largest and most widely recognized standard setting and certification body for labelled Fairtrade. It regularly inspects and certifies producer organizations in more than 50 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, encompassing approximately one million families of farmers and workers. FLO now unites 21 labelling initiatives across Europe, Japan, North America, Mexico and Australia/New Zealand as well as networks of producer organisations from Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.
Fair Trade USA (formerly known as TransFair USA) is the only independent, non-profit certification agency for Fair Trade products in the United States. Look for the Fair Trade Certified label when purchasing coffee, cocoa, vanilla, fruit, tea, sugar, rice and herbs.
The World Fair Trade Organization (formerly known as the International Fair Trade Association, or IFAT)is a global association created in 1989 of fair trade producer cooperatives and associations, export marketing companies, importers, retailers, national and regional fair trade networks and fair trade support organizations. In 2004 the WFTO launched the FTO Mark which identifies registered Fair Trade Organizations (as opposed to the FLO system, which labels products). IFAT has nearly 300 member organizations in over 60 countries.
The Fair Trade Federation (FTF) is an association of Canadian and American fair trade wholesalers, importers and retailers. The organization links its members to fair trade producer groups while acting as a clearinghouse for information on fair trade and providing resources and networking opportunities to its members. Global Fayre became a member of the Fair Trade Federation in February 2009.
The Fair Trade Resource Network (FTRN) is a US-based group that seeks to build a more just and sustainable world by gathering, developing, and disseminating educational resources about Fair Trade. FTRN is the only non-profit organization in the world focused exclusively on Fair Trade education, helping people to better understand the impact of their buying decisions.
The Fairtrade Foundation is the independent non-profit organisation that licenses use of the FAIRTRADE Mark on products in the UK in accordance with internationally agreed Fairtrade standards. The Foundation was established in 1992.
In the UK, the British Association for Fair Trade Shops (BAFTS) is an association of retailers who, although independent, unite in a core purpose which is to bring about fundamental changes in the status of working producers through Fair Trade retailing and campaigning.