Fair Trade must be a partnership approach

Acknowledging the benefits of Fair Trade labelling schemes, Moctar Fall of Interface Trading pointed out some of the limits and difficulties experienced by small and most disadvantaged producers. He reminded participants in the Brussels Briefing that Fair Trade should remain a partnership approach that integrates the interests of all stakeholders.

(video in French)

Due to the recent proliferation of Fair Trade trademarks in the North, Fair Trade organizations have reacted by systematizing quality initiatives via self-regulation procedures. Since many private enterprise brands were not transparent, a more systematic approach was needed.

Although certification and labelling processes meet this need, they have several inherent limits and difficulties. As Ms. Buitrago already mentioned, certification also increases the costs to producers. Mr. Fall added that this leads to price increases which makes market access even more difficult. Another problem for Southern producers is their understanding and acceptance of such Fair Trade labelling schemes. Often it seems that Northern organisations fix the guidelines and ACP producers are left to apply them blindly.

Producers that are excluded from Fair Trade schemes cannot understand why others may benefit from it.

The inherent problems of Fair Trade certification schemes can only be addressed within a framework of “wide-ranging, inclusive consultations which involve all stakeholders, in particular producers, in establishing standards, implementation strategies and support measures”, Mr. Fall said. “Fair Trade is a partnership approach”, and it “must remain so.”

Links: executive summary, video interview

See more on the 16 April Briefing

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