Mar 04 2011
Fair trade brings trade justice
Fair-trade Fortnight 2011 (28 February – 13 March) this year will focus attention on unimaginable poverty facing more than 10 million West African people – many of whom earn less than $400 a year – who rely on cotton for a living. A recent Fair-trade Foundation report, The Great Cotton Stitch-Up (www.fairtrade.org.uk/cotton) revealed that the $31 billion subsidies paid by the United Sates and the EU actually locks West Africa into poverty.
One way to try and change this situation which can be taken up by individuals is to buy Fair Trade products. MEPs have been working for a number of years to support the Fair Trade movement, putting pressure on the European institutions to step up their support.
European Trade Commissioner, Karel De Gucht, is currently preparing the Commission’s policy strategy on the links between trade and development which will be published by the end of the year.
In light of the forthcoming strategy MEPs are calling on the Commission to recognise the importance of Fair Trade in improving the livelihoods of marginalised producers and workers in developing countries, as part of the wider trade justice campaign.
MEPs are asking the Commission to take on board the ethical considerations of European citizens, following a recent study showing that: ‘Almost 40% of EU citizens are willing to pay more for products if they were produced under certain social and environmental standards or to support a developing country’.
As Euro MPs in Brussels I and my colleagues have successfully campaigned to ensure our own place of work is using more Fair Trade products –you can do the same in your place of work.
Thanks to efforts of the European Parliament’s ‘Fair Trade Working Group’, Fair Trade tea and coffee are now routinely served in all Parliament meetings and events, whilst Fair Trade products are given pride of place in the building’s restaurants and canteens and shops.
Fair Trade is not only an internationally recognized concept – it is a really practical way of making a difference to the lives of some of the world’s poorest people. Small changes in our shopping habits can make a big difference to the world’s poorest people.
The FAIRTRADE Mark is the only label which gives groups of farmers and producers the means to improve their livelihoods through the guaranteed minimum price and premium for social, environmental and business projects.
Around 7.5 million people (farmers, workers, their families and communities) – across 58 developing countries in the developing world benefit from the international Fair-trade system. During the Fortnight, farmers of cotton, bananas, and other produce will visit the UK to tour around the country attending Fairtrade Fortnight events, telling consumers about the healthcare, education and other projects they have been able to implement because of their sales on Fair Trade terms
By buying food, gifts and other products from developing countries we can help grow their economies and reduce poverty.