Sergi Corbalan – Fair Trade Advocacy Office

Rhodes Trust Lecture Theatre

Advocacy can be interpreted in many ways. One main aspect is to make sure the Fairtrade concept is respected. Second is getting more market access for Fairtrade producers, and third is making international trade fair.

Protecting the Fairtrade system

The more you grow as a system, the more aware people are of you, the more jealous people are. It’s important to make sure consumers are not misled. While fully respecting other initiatives in the ethical area that emphasise their added value, the legal frameworks have to allow consumers to know what they’re buying and prevent consuimers from being misled in to buying products that are not Fairtrade.

How do we make sure that the Fairtrade system is protected? It’s probably wiser to keep the definition of the Fairtrade movement in the hands of the Fairtrade movement.

The problem with the organic movement was that there was no agreement on what the term organic meant, it fell to governments to classify it. That’s why the Fairtrade movement are not keen on allowing governments to classify what Fairtrade means.

Market Access

This means the capacity to do business without too many barriers. Not business at the expense of everything else, but business with values. How to increase market access? Market mechanisms are linked to companies and consumers, so you need initiatives to turn companies towards ethical and Fairtrade schemes. For consumer/citizen it’s about awareness of what ethical and Fairtrade means. Consumer awareness of Fairtrade in the UK is high, which is a great achievement If the consumers are not aware of the added value of Fairtrade it is useless. And if there are no producers ready to supply that’s a problem to be addressed as well.

There is a big difference between the talk and the policy of Fairtrade especially in America and the EU. The agricultural policy of the EU is an example of policies that are ill designed, that are often bad for small producers in Europe and at the same time are a big barrier to market access for producers from the south. These sorts of rules cause obstacles for Fairtrade to realise its potential.

Fairtrade has three pillars. One is the alternative trading partnership – partnership with values and empowering consumers. The consumer awareness pillar of Fairtrade is key and so is the political and campaigning side. Having partnerships with multinational companies like Starbucks makes consumers ask questions about the legitimacy of Fairtrade, and it’s up to the Fairtrade organisations to show they have not become puppets for these companies. Alex Nicholls‘ forthcoming article on the subject is greatly recommended.

Making International Trade Fair

How do we make a difference with the Fairtrade movement? How do we choose the priorities in advocacy, where we can add value? We are in the process of doing this thinking, which is very interesting. It is clear that if you pick an example like Palestine, there is a lot of good work from the political point of view highlighting the situation around Fairtrade olive oil from Palestine. It’s not just coming from the theoretical point of view of what makes the world more fair, it’s saying we want to highlight these specific issues because we can make a difference there.

People are showing every day that they choose Fairtrade. It’s very important, we have the privilege to make the link between the consumers, the producers and the policies to make trade fair across the world.

Find out more about the Fair Trade Advocacy Office here.

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One Comment

  1. Posted November 10, 2009 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    Some one suggested the could not leave a comment lets see