The global development agenda is shifting from a focus on poverty in developing countries to tackling global inequality and promoting sustainability in every country. This represents a powerful opportunity to improve the lives of the 1.3 billion small-scale farmers and agricultural workers who play a vital role in producing our food and stewarding our planet. Fairtrade is working to amplify the voices of farmers and workers in key policy debates, supporting them to confront policies that impede fair trade and sustainable business.
Through our extensive network of stakeholder relationships, we actively encourage national and multi-national government bodies in favour of commercial practices and policies that tackle global poverty and deliver a fair deal to farmers and workers in developing countries. Over the past year, our movement has made significant progress and delivered a number of critical successes in this area.
Under current EU arrangements, the UK offers duty-free quota access to nations classed as the “Least Developed Countries” for all imported goods (with the exception of arms and ammunition). Following the Brexit referendum in June 2016 and the subsequent decision by the UK government to leave the EU, the future of this arrangement became unclear. Fairtrade mobilized and took this opportunity to proactively promote fair trade ahead of potential changes in UK government policy. In the autumn, more than 50,000 Fairtrade supporters signed a petition asking Prime Minister Theresa May to publicly commit to ensuring post-Brexit trade deals and business policies are geared towards tackling global poverty and delivering a fair deal to farmers and workers in developing countries. The campaign continued to build momentum – 5,000 emails were sent to MPs and, most recently, 38,000 supporters of Fairtrade, Traidcraft and Global Citizen requested that the Secretary of State for International Trade take quick and decisive action on this issue.
The UK government has now promised to continue giving the world’s poorest countries duty-free access to the UK after Brexit. It is estimated that this move will save farmers and workers in developing countries from footing an import tax bill of £1 billion (€1.13 billion).
Fairtrade, together with the rest of its partners in the global Fair Trade movement, maintains an active presence in Brussels through its Fair Trade Advocacy Office. Over the past year, by leveraging our relationships, we have achieved positive outcomes for fair trade through European Union policy and communications.
In November the European Commission officially recognised Fair Trade as having made a “strong contribution” to the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda in the proposal for a new European Consensus on Development. The list of key EU actions to achieve the 2030 Agenda includes the ‘fair and ethical trade’ commitments for which Fairtrade successfully advocated as part of discussions regarding the EU trade strategy. Both these communications are part of the EC’s 2030 Agenda policy package, including a Review of the European Consensus on Development and partnership with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries.
The EC Commissioner for Trade announced the launch of the EU City for Fair and Ethical Award promoting local authorities’ role in advancing fair trade. This will raise the profile of fair trade-related efforts at the local, as well as the national and international, level and also encourage local authorities to consider the broader ethical context when making supply decisions.
Inspired by the success of the the international Fair Trade Towns movement, which now numbers more than 1,850 Fair Trade Towns across 30 countries, CLAC (‘Coordinadora Latinoamericana y del Caribe de Comercio Justo’ – the Fairtrade producer network for Latin America and the Caribbean) is driving the campaign for ‘Latin American Towns and Villages for Fair Trade’. The initiative, which was launched in 2015 and is being carried out in collaboration with World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) Latin America, added ten municipalities as members during the past year across Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras and Paraguay. For more information visit the CLAC website.
To advance fairer trade policy commitments at a global level, a Fairtrade expert presented at the ‘UN End Child Labour in Supply Chains’ event in New York, together with the US Council for International Business, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and IKEA. Following this successful presentation, our expert hit the road to talk at many other forums around the world. We presented in Delhi at the Asia Livelihoods Summit, in Geneva at the ILO conference on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, in Nairobi at the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD XIV), at the Asia Development Bank meeting in Frankfurt and at the first Asian Fair Trade summit in Delhi.
Finally, in April 2017, our Senior Advisor presented as a keynote speaker at the Innovation Forum in London discussing with key governmental and business leaders about how business can tackle modern slavery and forced labour.
Fairtrade has a strong and unique set of stakeholder relationships among national and multi-national government bodies. These relationships provide a platform for our advocacy efforts on behalf of producers and workers in developing countries and we will continue to work proactively to ensure the Fair Trade agenda receives the attention of key influencers and decision-makers in governments worldwide.
Fairtrade will continue to pursue an agenda that improves the lives of farmers and workers by: