True fair trade is about mutually beneficial relationships rooted in trust and respect spanning geographic and cultural boundaries.
As a global movement, fair trade brings attention to people around the world who work under exploitative conditions and highlights the true costs of goods in global supply chains. Organizations and activists, businesses and brands, farmers, workers and artisans have diligently worked for more than 50 years to bring greater balance to the terms of trade.
In recent months, we have watched as the term 'fair trade' has been grossly misused by politicians to energize their supporters while vilifying others. We have seen the term used to exclude people and encourage an isolationist agenda. These ideas stand in direct opposition to the concepts of justice and inclusivity that underlie our movement.
For far too long, conventional trade has maintained a narrow focus on the lowest common denominator. Efficiency at all costs, lower prices, and little consideration for the full social, economic and environmental impacts have been the hallmarks of conventional international trade. Massive consolidation of power in supply chains has resulted in fewer options for consumers, farmers and workers, and unprecedented wealth controlled by few. Oxfam's recent report on global inequality revealed that just eight men control more wealth in the world's 3.6 billion poorest people combined.
IF WE HOPE FOR A SOCIETY - IN THE U.S. AND AROUND THE WORLD - THIS IS MORE EQUAL AND JUST, WE MUST PRESS TRADE INTO THE SERVICE OF PEOPLE.
Global trade and the trade deals that accompany it are not inherently bad. They provide an opportunity to delivery the benefits of trade more broadly, but only if they are used for that purpose. Fair trade, with its focus on inclusion and empowerment, shows that trade can - and must - be more equitable.
If we hope for a society - in the U.S. and around the world - that is more equal and just, we must press trade into the service of people.
- True fair trade creates shared value throughout supply chains
- True fair trade promotes openness and transparency
- True fair trade respects human rights
- True fair trade supports diversity
As the U.S. considers renegotiating or entering into new international trade agreements, we encourage the inclusion of authentic fair trade principles. We urge all who care about human rights, shared value, transparency and the diversity to call, write or meet with their elected officials and make your voice heard.
For a PDF version of this statement and to see all of our fair trade colleagues that have signed it, please click here. -ND