Fair trade is an organized social movement and market-based approach to alleviating global poverty and promoting sustainability.The movement advocates the payment of a fair price as well as social and environmental standards in areas related to the production of goods. It focuses in particular on exports from developing countries to developed countries, mostly handicrafts and agricultural products.

Fair trade works with marginalized producers and workers to help them move from a position of vulnerability to economic self-sufficiency. It also empowers individuals to take part in their own organizations and actively contribute in the global arena to achieve equality in international trade.

In June 2008, it was estimated that over 7.5 million disadvantaged producers and their families were benefiting from fair trade funded infrastructure, technical assistance, and community development projects.


Creating Opportunities for Economically and Socially Marginalized Producers

Fair Trade is a strategy for poverty alleviation and sustainable development. Members create social and economic opportunities through trading partnerships with marginalized producers. Members place the interests of producers and their communities as the primary concern of their enterprise.

Developing Transparent and Accountable Relationships

Fair Trade involves relationships that are open, fair, consistent, and respectful. Members show consideration for both customers and producers by sharing information about the entire trading chain through honest and proactive communication. They create mechanisms to help customers and producers feel actively involved in the trading chain. If problems arise, members work cooperatively with fair trade partners and other organizations to implement solutions.

Building Capacity

Fair Trade is a means to develop producers’ independence. Members maintain long-term relationships based on solidarity, trust, and mutual respect, so that producers can improve their skills and their access to markets. Members help producers to build capacity through proactive communication, financial and technical assistance, market information, and dialogue. They seek to share lessons learned, to spread best practices, and to strengthen the connections between communities, including among producer groups.

Promoting Fair Trade

Fair Trade encourages an understanding by all participants of their role in world trade. Members actively raise awareness about Fair Trade and the possibility of greater justice in the global economic system. They encourage customers and producers to ask questions about conventional and alternative supply chains and to make informed choices. Members demonstrate that trade can be a positive force for improving living standards, health, education, the distribution of power, and the environment in the communities with which they work.

Paying Promptly and Fairly

Fair Trade empowers producers to set prices within the framework of the true costs of labor, time, materials, sustainable growth, and related factors. Members take steps to ensure that producers have the capacity to manage this process. Members comply with or exceed international, national, local, and, where applicable, Fair Trade Minimum standards for their employees and producers. Members seek to ensure that income is distributed equitably at all times, particularly equal pay for equal work by women and men. Members ensure prompt payment to all of their partners. Producers are offered access to interest-free advance payment for handmade goods, or pre-finance of agricultural harvest with favorable terms.

Supporting Safe and Empowering Working Conditions

Fair Trade means a safe and healthy working environment free of forced labor. Throughout the trading chain, Members cultivate workplaces that empower people to participate in the decisions that affect them. Members seek to eliminate discrimination based on race, caste, national origin, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation, union membership, political affiliation, age, marital, or health status. Members support workplaces free from physical, sexual, psychological, or verbal harassment or abuse.

Ensuring the Rights of Children

Fair Trade means that all children have the right to security, education, and play. Throughout the trading chain, Members respect and support the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as local laws and social norms. Members disclose the involvement of children in production. Members do not support child trafficking and exploitative child labor.

Cultivating Environmental Stewardship

Fair Trade seeks to offer current generations the ability to meet their needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Members actively consider the implications of their decisions on the environment and promote the responsible stewardship of resources. Members reduce, reuse, reclaim, and recycle materials wherever possible. They encourage environmentally sustainable practices throughout the entire trading chain.

Respecting Cultural Identity

Fair Trade celebrates the cultural diversity of communities, while seeking to create positive and equitable change. Members respect the development of products, practices, and organizational models based on indigenous traditions and techniques to sustain cultures and revitalize traditions. Members balance market needs with producers’ cultural heritage.

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Source: Fair Trade Federation