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Certified Fair trade quinoa producers in Ecuador.Fair trade is an organized social movement which promotes standards for international labour, environmentalism, and social policy in areas related to production of Fairtrade labeled and unlabelled goods. The movement focuses in particular on exports from developing countries to developed countries.
Fair trade's strategic intent is to deliberately work with marginalised producers and workers in order to help them move from a position of vulnerability to security and economic self-sufficiency. It also aims at empowering them to become stakeholders in their own organizations and actively play a wider role in the global arena to achieve greater equity in international trade.
Fair trade proponents include a wide array of international religious, development aid, social and environmental organizations such as Oxfam, Amnesty International, and Caritas International.
As most developmental efforts, fair trade has proved itself controversial and has drawn criticism from both ends of the political spectrum. Some economists and conservative think tanks see fair trade as a type of subsidy that impedes growth. Segments of the left criticize fair trade for not challenging enough the current trading system.
In 2005, fair trade certified sales were estimated at €1.1 billion worldwide, a 37 % year-to-year increase. While this represents less than one hundredth of a percentage point of world trade in physical merchandise, fair trade products generally account for 0.5-5% of all sales in their product categories in Europe and North America. In October 2006, over 1.5 million disadvantaged producers worldwide were directly benefiting from fair trade while an additional 5 million benefited from fair trade funded infrastructure and community development projects.
1 Definition of fair trade
2 Key fair trade principles
3 General structure of the movement
4.1 Solidarity trade
4.2 Handcrafts vs. agricultural goods
4.3 Rise of labelling initiatives
4.4 Fair trade today
5 Fairtrade certification and labelling
5.1 Fairtrade Labelling Organizations (FLO) product certification
5.2 IFAT Fair Trade Organization certification
6 Fair trade impact studies
7 Fair trade and politics
7.1 European politics
7.2 French politics
7.3 Italian politics
7.4 Belgian politics
7.5 Scottish Politics
8 Common justifications for fair trade
8.1 Free trade and market failures
8.2 The commodity crisis
8.3 The price distortion concern and the potential benefits of fair trade
9.1 Price distortion argument
9.2 Mainstreaming argument
11 See also
 Definition of fair trade
The most widely recognized definition of fair trade was created by FINE, an informal Association of the four main fair trade networks (Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International, International Fair Trade Association, Network of European Worldshops and European Fair Trade Association):
Fair trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, which seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers - especially in the South. Fair trade organizations (backed by consumers) are engaged actively in supporting producers, awareness raising and in campaigning for changes in the rules and practice of conventional international trade.
 Key fair trade principles
Workers sorting and pulping coffee beans on a fair-trade plantation in GuatemalaFair trade advocates generally support the following principles and practices in trading relationships:
Creating opportunities for economically disadvantaged producers
Fair trade is a strategy for poverty alleviation and sustainable development. Its purpose is to create opportunities for producers who have been economically disadvantaged or marginalized by the conventional trading system.
Transparency and accountability
Fair trade involves transparent management and commercial relations to deal fairly and respectfully with trading partners.
Fair trade is a means to develop producers’ independence. Fair trade relationships provide continuity, during which producers and their marketing organizations can improve their management skills and their access to new markets.
Payment of a fair price
A fair price in the regional or local context is one that has been agreed through dialogue and participation. It covers not only the costs of production but enables production which is socially just and environmentally sound. It provides fair pay to the producers and takes into account the principle of equal pay for equal work by women and men. Fairtraders ensure prompt payment to their partners and, whenever possible, help producers with access to pre-harvest or pre-production financing.
Fair trade means that women’s work is properly valued and rewarded. Women are always paid for their contribution to the production process and are empowered in their organizations.
Fair trade means a safe and healthy working environment for producers. The participation of children (if any) does not adversely affect their well-being, security, educational requirements and need for play and conforms to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child as well as the law and norms in the local context.
Fair trade actively encourages better environmental practices and the application of responsible methods of production.
 General structure of the movement
Fairtrade Certified Rice Producer in ThailandMost fair trade import organizations are members or certified by one or several national or international federations. These federations coordinate, promote and facilitate the work of fair trade organizations. The following are the largest and most influential:
The Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO), created in 1997, is the largest and most widely recognized standard setting and certification body for labelled Fairtrade. It regularly inspects and certifies producer organizations in more than 50 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, encompassing approximately one million families of farmers and workers.
The International Fair Trade Association (IFAT) is a global association created in 1989 of fair trade producer cooperatives and associations, export marketing companies, importers, retailers, national and regional fair trade networks and fair trade support organizations. In 2004 IFAT launched the FTO Mark which identifies registered Fair Trade Organizations (as opposed to the FLO system, which labels products). IFAT has nearly 300 member organizations in over 60 countries.
The Network of European Worldshops (NEWS), created in 1994, is the umbrella network of 15 national Worldshop associations in 13 different countries all over Europe.
The European Fair Trade Association (EFTA), created in 1990, is a network of European fair trade organisations which import products from some 400 economically disadvantaged producer groups in Africa, Asia and Latin America. EFTA's goal is to promote fair trade and to make fair trade importing more efficient and effective. The organization also published yearly various publications on the evolution of the fair trade market. EFTA currently has eleven members in nine different countries.
In 1998, these four federations created together FINE, an informal association whose goal is to harmonize fair trade standards and guidelines, increase the quality and efficiency of fair trade monitoring systems and advocate fair trade politically.
The Fair Trade Federation (FTF) is an association of Canadian and American fair trade wholesalers, importers and retailers. The organization links its members to fair trade producer groups while acting as a clearinghouse for information on fair trade and providing resources and networking opportunities to its members.
Main article: History of fair trade
The first attempts to commercialize fair trade goods in Northern markets were initiated in the 1940s and 1950s by religious groups and various politically oriented non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Ten Thousand Villages, an NGO within the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) and SERRV International were the first, in 1946 and 1949 respectively, to develop fair trade supply chains in developing countries. The products, almost exclusively handicrafts ranging from jute goods to cross-stitch work, were mostly sold in Worldshops. The goods themselves had often no other function than to indicate that a donation had been made.
 Solidarity trade
Fair Trade goods sold in WorldshopsThe current fair trade movement was shaped in Europe in the 1960s. Fair trade during that period was often seen as a political gesture against neo-imperialism: radical student movements began targeting multinational corporations and concerns that traditional business models were fundamentally flawed started to emerge. The slogan at the time, “Trade not Aid”, gained international recognition in 1968 when it was adopted by the UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) to put the emphasis on the establishment of fair trade relations with the developing world.
The year 1965 saw the creation of the first Alternative Trading Organization (ATO): that year, British NGO Oxfam launched "Helping-by-Selling", a program which sold imported handicrafts in Oxfam stores in the UK and from mail-order catalogues.
In 1969, the first Worldshop opened its doors in the Netherlands. The initiative aimed at bringing the principles of fair trade to the retail sector by selling almost exclusively goods produced under fair trade terms in “underdeveloped regions”. The first shop was run by volunteers and was so successful that dozens of similar shops soon went into business in the Benelux countries, Germany and in other Western European countries.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, important segments of the fair trade movement worked to find markets for products from countries that were excluded from the mainstream trading channels for political reasons. Thousands of volunteers sold coffee from Angola and Nicaragua in Worldshops, in the back of churches, from their homes and from stands in public places, using the products as a vehicle to deliver their message: give disadvantaged producers in developing countries a fair chance on the world’s market, and you support their self-determined sustainable development. The alternative trade movement blossomed, if not in sales, then at least in terms of dozens of ATOs being established on both sides of the Atlantic, of scores of Worldshops being set up, and of well-organized actions and campaigns attacking exploitation and foreign domination, and promoting the ideals of Nelson Mandela, Julius Nyerere and the Nicaraguan Sandinistas: the right to independence and self-determination, to equitable access to the world’s markets and consumers.
 Handcrafts vs. agricultural goods
In the early 1980s, Alternative Trading Organizations faced a major challenge: the novelty of some fair trade products started wearing off, demand reached a plateau and some handicrafts began to look “tired and old fashioned” in the marketplace.The decline of segments of the handicrafts market forced fair trade supporters to rethink their business model and their goals. Moreover, fair trade supporters during this period became increasingly worried by the impact of the fall of agricultural commodity prices on poor producers. Many then believed it was the movement's responsibility to address the issue and to find innovative remedies to react to the ongoing crisis in the industry.
In the subsequent years, fair trade agricultural commodities played an important role in the growth of many ATOs: successful on the market, they offered a much-needed, renewable source of income for producers and provided Alternative Trading Organizations a perfect alternative to the stagnating handicrafts market. The first fair trade agricultural products were tea and coffee, quickly followed by dried fruits, cocoa, sugar, fruit juices, rice, spices and nuts. While in 1992, a sales value ratio of 80 % handcrafts to 20 % agricultural goods was the norm, in 2002 handcrafts amounted to 25.4 % of sales while commodity food lines were up at 69.4 %.
 Rise of labelling initiatives
Early Fairtrade Certifications MarksSales of fair trade products however only really took off with the arrival of the first Fairtrade labelling initiatives. Although buoyed by ever growing sales, fair trade had been generally contained to relatively small Worldshops scattered across Europe and to a lesser extent, North America. Some felt that these shops were too disconnected from the rhythm and the lifestyle of contemporary developed societies. The inconvenience of going to them to buy only a product or two was too high even for the most dedicated customers. The only way to increase sale opportunities was to start offering fair trade products where consumers normally shop, in large distribution channels. The problem was to find a way to expand distribution without compromising consumer trust in fair trade products and in their origins.
A solution was found in 1988, when the first Fairtrade labelling initiative, Stichting Max Havelaar, was created under the initiative of Nico Roozen, Frans Van Der Hoff and Dutch development NGO Solidaridad. The independent certification allowed the goods to be sold outside the Worldshops and into the mainstream, reaching a larger consumer segment and boosting fair trade sales significantly. The labeling initiative also allowed customers and distributors alike to track the origin of the goods to confirm that the products were really benefiting the producers at the end of the supply chain.
The concept caught on: in the ensuing years, similar non-profit Fairtrade labelling organizations were set up in other European countries and North America. In 1997, a process of convergence among labelling organizations – or “LIs” (for “Labelling Initiatives”) – led to the creation of Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International. FLO is an umbrella organization whose mission is to set the Fairtrade standards, support, inspect and certify disadvantaged producers and harmonize the Fairtrade message across the movement.
In 2002, FLO launched a new International Fairtrade Certification Mark. The goals of the launch were to improve the visibility of the Mark on supermarket shelves, facilitate cross border trade and simplify procedures for both producers and importers. At present, over 16 FLO International member labelling initiatives use the International Fairtrade Certification Mark. There are now Fairtrade Certification Marks on dozens of different products, based on FLO’s certification for coffee, tea, rice, bananas, mangoes, cocoa, cotton, sugar, honey, fruit juices, nuts, fresh fruit, quinoa, herbs and spices, wine and footballs etc.
 Fair trade today
Global fair trade sales have soared over the past decade. The increase has been particularly spectacular among Fairtrade labelled goods: in 2005, these sales amounted to approximately €1.1 billion worldwide, a 37 % year-to-year increase. As per October 2006, 586 producer organizations in 58 developing countries were FLO-CERT Fairtrade certified and over 150 were IFAT registered.
 Fairtrade certification and labelling
International Fairtrade Certification Mark
Fair Trade Certified Mark (USA & Canada)
IFAT Fair Trade Organization MarkMain article: Fairtrade certification
 Fairtrade Labelling Organizations (FLO) product certification
Note: Customary spelling of Fairtrade is one word when referring to the FLO product labelling system
Fairtrade labelling (usually simply Fairtrade or Fair Trade Certified in the US) is a certification system designed to allow consumers to identify goods which meet agreed standards. Overseen by a standard-setting body (FLO International) and a certification body (FLO-CERT), the system involves independent auditing of producers and traders to ensure the agreed standards are met.
For a product to carry either the International Fairtrade Certification Mark or the Fair Trade Certified Mark, it must come from FLO-CERT inspected and certified producer organizations. The crops must be grown and harvested in accordance with the international Fairtrade standards set by FLO International. The supply chain must also have been monitored by FLO-CERT, to ensure the integrity of labelled products.
Fairtrade certification guarantees not only fair prices, but also the principles of ethical purchasing. These principles include adherence to ILO agreements such as those banning child and slave labour, guaranteeing a safe workplace and the right to unionise, adherence to the United Nations charter of human rights, a fair price that covers the cost of production and facilitates social development, and protection and conservation of the environment. The Fairtrade certification system also promotes long-term business relationships between buyers and sellers, and greater transparency throughout the supply chain.
The Fairtrade certification system covers a growing range of products, including bananas, honey, coffee, oranges, cocoa, cotton, dried and fresh fruits and vegetables, juices, nuts and oil seeds, quinoa, rice, spices, sugar, tea and wine. Companies offering products that meet the Fairtrade standards may apply for licences to use one of the Fairtrade Certification Marks for those products.
The International Fairtrade Certification Mark was launched in 2002 by FLO, and replaced twelve Marks used by various Fairtrade labelling initiatives. The new Certification Mark is currently used worldwide (with the exception of Canada and the United States).
The Fair Trade Certified Mark, used in Canada and in the United States, also still identifies Fairtrade goods in both countries. Full transition to the new Mark should become reality in the future as it gradually replaces the old Certification Marks in both countries.
 IFAT Fair Trade Organization certification
In an effort to complement the Fairtrade product certification system and allow most notably handcraft producers to also sell their products outside worldshops, the International Fair Trade Association (IFAT) launched in 2004 a new Mark to identify fair trade organizations (as opposed to products in the case of FLO International and Fairtrade). Called the FTO Mark, it allows consumers to recognize registered Fair Trade Organizations worldwide and guarantees that standards are being implemented regarding working conditions, wages, child labour and the environment.
The FTO Mark gave for the first time all Fair Trade Organizations (including handcrafts producers) definable recognition amongst consumers, existing and new business partners, governments and donors.
 Fair trade impact studies
Several independent studies have recently measured the impact of fair trade on disadvantaged farmers and workers.
In 2002, Loraine Ronchi of the Poverty Research Unit at the University of Sussex studied the impact of fair trade on the Coocafe cooperative in Costa Rica. Ronchi found that fair trade strengthened producer organizations and concluded that "in light of the coffee crisis of the early 1990s, fair trade can be said to have accomplished its goal of improving the returns to small producers and positively affecting their quality of life and the health of the organisations that represent them locally, nationally and beyond".
In 2003, the Fair Trade Research Group at Colorado State University conducted seven case studies of Latin American Fairtrade coffee producers (UCIRI, CEPCO, Majomut, Las Colinas & El Sincuyo La Selva, Tzotzilotic and La Voz) and concluded that Fair Trade has "in a short time greatly improved the well-being of small-scale coffee farmers and their families" The various case studies most notably found that producers had under Fair Trade greater access to credit and external development funding. The studies also found that Fair Trade producers had, compared to conventional coffee producers, greater access to training and enhanced ability to improve the quality of their coffee.. Families of Fair Trade producers were also said to be more stable and children had better access to education than in families growing conventional coffee.
A case study of Bolivian coffee Fair Trade producers published by Nicolas Eberhart for French NGO Agronomes et Vétérinaires sans frontières in 2005 concluded that Fair Trade certification has had in the Yungas a positive impact on local coffee prices, thus economically benefiting all coffee producers (Fairtrade certified or not). Fair Trade was also said to have strengthened producer organizations and increased their political influence.
An econometric analysis conducted by Becchetti and Costantino (2006) verified the impact of Fair Trade affiliation on monetary and non monetary measures of well-being on a sample of Kenyan farmers. The researchers compared a control sample group of farmers to Fair trade certified groups and Meru herbs farmers. Becchetti and Costantino documented the following: during the same period, Fair trade farmers were more successful in diversifying their production, experienced a significant drop in child mortality, improvements in terms of monthly household food consumption, greater satisfaction in terms of prices obtained for their crop, living conditions etc. Methodological problems such as the relative contribution of Fair Trade and Meru herbs farmers, control sample bias, Fair trade and Meru Herb selection biases are discussed and addressed showing that ex ante selection of Meru members contributes to explain some but not all the results of the study. 
A sociological research published by Virginie Diaz Pedregal (2006) analyzes practices of exchange and the effects of « fair division » in coffee organizations using fair trade in the Andean context (Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia). The study deals with the way beneficiaries perceive fair trade, and its importance within the communities. Positive and negative effects of fair trade are discussed. 
 Fair trade and politics
 European politics
Display of Fairtrade products at the Derbyshire County Council head officeAs early as 1994, the European Commission prepared the “Memo on alternative trade” in which it declared its support for strengthening Fair Trade in the South and North and its intention to establish an EC Working Group on Fair Trade. Furthermore, the same year, the European Parliament adopted the “Resolution on promoting fairness and solidarity in North South trade” (OJ C 44, 14.2.1994), a resolution voicing its support for fair trade.
In 1996, the Economic and Social Committee adopted an “Opinion on the European “Fair Trade” marking movement”. A year later, in 1997, the document was followed by a resolution adopted by the European Parliament, calling on the Commission to support Fair Trade banana operators. The same year, the European Commission published a survey on “Attitudes of EU consumers to Fair Trade bananas”, concluding that Fair Trade bananas would be commercially viable in several EU Member States.
In 1998, the European Parliament adopted the “Resolution on Fair Trade” (OJ C 226/73, 20.07.1998), which was followed by the European Commission|Commission in 1999 that adopted the “Communication from the Commission to the Council on “Fair Trade” COM(1999) 619 final, 29.11.1999.
In 2000, public institutions in Europe started purchasing Fairtrade Certified coffee and tea. Furthermore, that year, the Cotonou Agreement made specific reference to the promotion of Fair Trade in article 23 g) and in the Compendium. The European Parliament and Council Directive 2000/36/EC also suggested promoting Fair Trade.
In 2001 and 2002, several other EU papers explicitly mentioned fair trade, most notably the 2001 Green Paper on Corporate Social Responsibility and the 2002 Communication on Trade and Development.
In 2004, the European Union adopted the “Agricultural Commodity Chains, Dependence and Poverty – A proposal for an EU Action Plan”, with a specific reference to the Fair Trade movement which has “been setting the trend for a more socio-economically responsible trade.” (COM(2004)0089).
In 2005, in the European Commission communication “Policy Coherence for Development – Accelerating progress towards attaining the Millennium Development Goals”, (COM(2005) 134 final, 12.04.2005), Fair Trade is mentioned as “a tool for poverty reduction and sustainable development”.
And finally, on July 6, 2006, the European Parliament unanimously adopted a resolution on Fair Trade, recognizing the benefits achieved by the Fair Trade movement, suggesting the development of an EU-wide policy on Fair Trade, defining criteria that need to be fulfilled under Fair Trade to protect it from abuse and calling for greater support to Fair Trade (EP resolution “Fair Trade and development”, 6 July 2006)
"This resolution responds to the impressive growth of Fair Trade, showing the increasing interest of European consumers in responsible purchasing," said Green MEP Frithjof Schmidt during the plenary debate. Peter Mandelson, EU Commissioner for External Trade, responded that the resolution will be well-received at the Commission. "Fair Trade makes the consumers think and therefore it is even more valuable. We need to develop a coherent policy framework and this resolution will help us."
 French politics
In 2005, French parliament member Antoine Herth issued the report “40 proposals to sustain the development of Fair Trade”. The report was followed the same year by a law, proposing to establish a Commission to recognize Fair Trade Organisations (article 60 of law no. 2005-882, Small and Medium Enterprises, 2 August 2005).
In parallel to the legislative developments, also in 2006, the French chapter of ISO (AFNOR) adopted a reference document on Fair Trade after five years of discussion.
 Italian politics
In 2006, Italian lawmakers started debating how to introduce a law on fair trade in Parliament. A consultation process involving a wide range of stakeholders was launched early October.
 Belgian politics
Belgian lawmakers have started discussing in 2006 a possible legislation on fair trade.
 Scottish Politics
In March 2007, First Minister Jack McConnell of the Scottish Parliament pledged that Scotland would become a "Fair Trade Nation".
 Common justifications for fair trade
Fairtrade certified products sold in Germany.Implicit and often explicit in fair trade is a criticism of the current organization of international trade as being "unfair". Fair trade advocates often justify the need for fair trade by mentioning the microeconomic market failures of our system and the current commodity crisis and its impact on developing country producers.
 Free trade and market failures
All FINE members and fair trade federations support in theory the principles of unhindered free trade. However, as Alex Nicholls, social entrepreneurship professor at Oxford University, points out, the "key conditions on which classical and neo-liberal trade theories are based are notably absent in rural agricultural societies in many developing countries." Perfect market information, perfect access to markets and credit, and the ability to switch production techniques and outputs in response to market information are fundamental assumptions which "are fallacious in the context of agricultural producers and workers in developing countries".
The absence of these microeconomic conditions can nullify or even reverse the potential gains to producers from trade. While Nicholls agrees that the win-win situation for all actors involved may be broadly correct in some markets, nevertheless, "within developing countries market conditions are not such that producers can unambiguously be declared to be better off through trade." The existence of these market failures lessens the capacity trade has to lift developing countries out of poverty.
Fair trade is seen as an attempt to address these market failures by providing producers a stable price for their crop, business support, access to premium Northern markets and better general trading conditions.
 The commodity crisis
Fair trade advocates also often point out that unregulated competition in global commodity markets ever since the 1970s and 1980s has encouraged a price "race to the bottom". During the 1970-2000 period, prices for many of the main agricultural exports of developing countries, such as sugar, cotton, cocoa and coffee, fell by 30 to 60 percent. According to the European Commission, “the abandonment of international intervention policies at the end of the 1980s and the commodity market reforms of the 1990s in the developing countries left the commodity sectors, and in particular small producers, largely to themselves in their struggle with the demands of the markets”. Today, “producers… live an unpredictable existence because the prices for a wide range of commodities are very volatile and in addition follow a declining long-term trend”. The total loss for developing countries due to falling commodity prices has been estimated by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) to total almost $250 billion during the 1980-2002 period.
Millions of poor farmers are dependent on commodities and on the price they receive for their harvest. In about 50 developing countries, three or fewer primary commodity exports constitute the bulk of export revenue.
Many farmers, often without other means of subsistence, are obliged to produce more and more, no matter how low the prices are. Research has shown that those who suffer most from declines in commodity prices are the rural poor — i.e. the majority of people living in developing countries. Basic agriculture employs over 50% of the people in developing countries, and accounts for 33% of their GDP.
Fair trade supporters believe current market prices do not properly reflect the true costs associated with production; they believe only a well-managed stable minimum price system can cover environmental and social production costs.
 The price distortion concern and the potential benefits of fair trade
A main criticism of fair trade is that it generates price distortions on commodity market prices, providing a wrong incentive for producers to invest resources inefficiently in a product for which there is scarce demand. According to some recent theoretical work in this field there are two theoretical fallacies behind this kind of reasoning .
First, in many cases the exchange between producers and intermediaries does not occur in a competitive framework. In such case the market price is a distortion because it does not reflect the productivity of producers but their lower market power.
Second, the food industry produces highly differentiated products with a continuous wave of innovations which create new varieties. There is not one single coffee but instead many different coffee products which are differentiated from one another in terms of quality, blends, packaging, and now also "social responsibility" features. For each of these products there exists a specific and different market price which is determined by consumer taste for that kind of product (which for fair trade coffees does not seem to be weak or declining). In this sense, fair trade is an innovation in the food industry which creates a new range of products.
Beyond these elements it is important to also take into account all the potential benefits of the fair trade value chain in terms of provision of local public goods, technical assistance which strengthens producers market capabilities, democratization of markets through increasing consumer power etc.
Main article: Fair trade debate
Fair trade's increasing popularity has drawn criticism from both ends of the political spectrum. Different arguments are used by those who favour and by those who oppose fair trade, or feel that more strict standards and higher fair trade prices are needed. These arguments can be divided in four broad categories:
The price distortion argument, advocated by the Globalisation Institute, the Adam Smith Institute, the Cato Institute, and The Economist magazine, calling fair trade a "misguided attempt to make up for market failures" encouraging market inefficiencies and overproduction.
The scope of fair trade argument, not explicitly criticizing the ideals behind fair trade, but rather the current certification and pricing systems.
The trade justice argument, championed by French author and broadcaster Jean-Pierre Boris, criticizing fair trade for stopping short of actively advocating immediate trade policy changes that would have a larger impact on disadvantaged producers' lives.
The mainstreaming argument, defended by French author Christian Jacquiau, which criticizes the fair trade movement for working within the current system (i.e. partnerships with mass retailers, multinational corporations etc.) rather than establishing a new fairer, fully autonomous trading system.
 Price distortion argument
Effects of a Price FloorSimilar to other farm subsidies, fair trade attempts to set a price floor for a good that is in many cases above the market price and therefore encourages existing producers to produce more and new producers to enter the market, leading to excess supply. Through the laws of supply and demand, excess supply can lead to lower prices in the non Fair Trade market.
While critics of Fair Trade usually recognize the idea was based on "the best of intentions", it might in fact, "makes things worse". Singleton's comments echo the main criticisms of Fair Trade, that "it also leads fair trade producers to increase production. While benefiting a number of Fair Trade producers over the short run, fair trade critics worry about the impact on long run development and economic growth. The reason coffee prices are so low on the world markets is that there is too much production. By encouraging even more supply of coffee, fair trade makes the world price fall further. This makes the vast majority of coffee producers worse off. It also focuses us away from dealing with the real, long term solutions." Though the adjustment progress is difficult, this creative destruction is a core component of economic growth. By stopping price signals, fair trade may encourage inefficient activities that will not lift the world's poor out of poverty over the long run. In 2003, Cato Institute senior fellow Brink Lindsey referred to fair trade as a “well intentioned, interventionist scheme...doomed to end in failure." Fair trade, according to Lindsey, is a misguided attempt to make up for market failures in which one flawed pricing structure is replaced with another.
 Mainstreaming argument
On the other end of the spectrum, some believe the fair trade system is not radical enough. French author Christian Jacquiau, in his book Les coulisses du commerce équitable, calls for stricter fair trade standards and criticizes the fair trade movement for working within the current system (i.e. partnerships with mass retailers, multinational corporations etc.) rather than establishing a new fairer, fully autonomous trading system. Jacquiau is also a staunch supporter of significantly higher fair trade prices in order to maximize the impact, as most producers only sell a portion of their crop under fair trade terms.
Another French author, Virginie Diaz Pedregal, presents some philosophical theories regarding domestic and international justice to explain fair trade movements. Without taking personal part in the debate, the author exposes her thesis about the reasons underlying dissensions between groups practicing fair trade. The standpoint is that its stakeholders refer to divergent justice principles arising from dissimilar and hardly compatible social ideals.
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^ Brink, Lindsey. (2004). Grounds for Complaint. URL accessed on September 25, 2006.
^ Jacquiau, Christian. (2006). Les Coulisses du Commerce Équitable. Éditions Mille et Une Nuits. Paris.
^ Diaz Pedregal, Virginie. (2007). Le Commerce Equitable Dans la France Contemporaine. Idéologies et Pratiques. Paris: L'Harmattan.
 See also
Fair trade topics Fair trade | History of fair trade | Fairtrade certification | Fair trade and politics | Fair trade impact studies | Fair trade debate | Alternative trading organization | Trade justice | Worldshop | Black Gold (film) | One Cup (film)
Federations Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International | International Fair Trade Association | Network of European Worldshops | European Fair Trade Association | FINE | Fair Trade Federation
Certification FLO International (standard-setting & producer support) | FLO-CERT (inspection & certification) | International Fairtrade Certification Mark | Fair Trade Certified Mark
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