It’s a shame that “Fair Trade” and “Free Trade” sound so similar because they really have very little in common. The biggest difference is that Free Trade agreements happen on a multi-national level, with very little concern for small farmers and artisans. In contrast, “in Fair Trade, we don’t sell and buy. We build long-term partnerships and friendship and commitment,” says Nasser Abufarha, Founder and Director of Canaan Fair Trade. See what the founders of other Fair Trade organizations say about the harms of free trade agreements and the benefits of being able to put people before profits with Fair Trade:
This video was put out by an non-profit called Fair World Project. They provide a ton of resources on the latest happenings in the Fair Trade movement, most notably in the form of their free quarterly publication, which is available at all of our stores. You can access a PDF version here. The most current issue includes information on how to engage in trade policy, the challenges of Fair Trade on a global scale and several articles on food labels.
There’s a particularly interesting article by the founder of Global Mamas, one of our great artisan partners. They talk about the unique problems they’ve had as the company has grown from 6 original “Mamas” to nearly six hundred. One of the constant struggles of Fair Trade is how to keep the “friendship and commitment” of their business at the forefront even while they grow and people take on different roles. The original “Mamas” of Global Mamas were directly involved in the direction of the business and now each work with their own group of women, each under the same principles of Fair Trade. This model of interconnected small, independently-owned businesses allows them to trade fairly and grow fairly, something that is new to the Fair Trade movement, but exciting nonetheless. The most important thing to remember is to always stay informed. Like they say in the video, there are fair trade products and then there are fair trade companies and it’s important to recognize the difference. So always ask questions and see how much you can find out about a company’s overall mission.
Check out the Global Mamas article for yourself here.