Does Fair Trade contribute to sustainable development? – Audience reactions

What did participants in the April Briefing think of the discussions? We asked a few for their reactions.

H.E. Ambassador Cuello Camilo, from the Dominican Republic, found the briefing “enlightening” to understand challenges and potentials of Fair Trade for developing countries. In particular, referring to the recently signed EPA between the EU and the Dominican Republic, where Fair Trade is included as a binding condition, he points out how producers have benefited from that. He concludes by stressing the importance of the Brussels Development Briefings as a valuable platform for this type of discussion.

Stephen Mbheti, Chief Executive of the Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya mentions that the Association’s producers depend on the European market for 90% of their produce. Concerning standards, it is not a question whether they can meet social, environmental and development criteria, due to small-scale and rather green production methods. The critical point are the high costs of certification. Therefore, the Association’s central message to Brussels is that “we have to remove the commercialization of compliance through certification schemes and replace it with a systems approach that certifies that a country or a group of producers is sticking to the rules and therefore removes the burden from the individual farmers.”

Vincent Fautrel of CTA, underlined the need to discuss Fair Trade within the larger perspective of transforming markets. Due to progressive market liberalisation, ACP countries currently experience an ‘erosion’ of their trade preferences; this forces them to differentiate their production. Fair Trade is therefore an interesting option that needs to be sustained and stimulated. However, several challenges may undermine this potential: The issue of distribution of added value along the whole production chain; the proliferation of labels and potential confusion for consumers; and problems of regulations. A multi-stakeholder discussion such as the one promoted in this Briefing certainly helps to understand these issues better.

(video in French)

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