Fair Trade Thoughts
Have you ever wondered about what the “Fair Trade” buzz is all about? It’s interesting what you find in the dictionary when you look up “Fair Trade”. For example, the reference.com dictionary says, “to sell (a commodity) under a fair-trade agreement.” That’s not very helpful, so looking up “fair-trade agreement” you’ll see, “an agreement (illegal in the United States) between the manufacturer of a trademarked item of merchandise and its retail distributors to sell the item at a price at or above the price set by the manufacturer” (emphasis added). Wikipedia also has some thought-provoking information like, “The Fair trade industry does not reveal how much of this is the extra price charged for Fairtrade goods, or how much of the extra price reaches the producer.” Isn’t Fair Trade supposed to be all about justly compensating the workers and avoiding sweat-shop-style working conditions? Is this just a total marketing scam that enriches the labeling organizations like Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International, World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), Network of European Worldshops, European Fair Trade Association(EFTA), Fair Trade Federation, Fair Trade USA, and Fairtrade International (to name a few)?
Is this “movement” similar to organizations like the American Cancer Society that has no interest in curing cancer because there’s an entire industry built around donations towards their cause? Nobody seems to know; there’s not any clear evidence on either side.