Artisan Life was a member of the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) from July 2007 to 2010, and also a proud member of the British Association for Fair Trade Shops & Suppliers (BAFTS), from 2010 to 2018. The World Fair Trade Organization has given us provisional membership since 2019.
What does it mean?
Fair Trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that 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. Fair Trade products are produced and traded in accordance with these principles - wherever possible verified by credible, independent assurance systems.
Core Fair Trade Principles
The principles of Fair Trade are based on the practical and shared experience of Fair Trade Organizations over many years and reflect the diversity of Fair Trade relationships. The most important of these are unique to Fair Trade and are integral to its developmental objectives. These include:
1. Market access for marginalised producers
Many producers are excluded from mainstream and added-value markets, or only access them via lengthy and inefficient trading chains. Fair Trade enables buyers to trade with producers who would otherwise be excluded from these markets. It also helps shorten trade chains so that producers receive more from the final selling price of their goods than is the norm in conventional trade via multiple intermediaries.
2. Sustainable and equitable trading relationships
The economic basis of transactions within Fair Trade relationships takes account of all costs of production, both direct and indirect, including the safeguarding of natural resources and meeting future investment needs. Trading terms offered by Fair Trade buyers enable producers and workers to maintain a sustainable livelihood; that is one that not only meets day-to-day needs for economic, social and environmental well-being but that also enables improved conditions in the future. Prices and payment terms (including prepayment where required) are determined by assessment of these factors rather than just reference to current market conditions. There is a commitment to a long-term trading partnership that enables both sides to co-operate through information sharing and planning, and the importance of these factors in ensuring decent working conditions is recognised.
3. Transparency and accountability
Fair trade involves transparent management and commercial relations to deal fairly and respectfully with trading partners.
4. Capacity building & empowerment
Fair Trade relationships assist producer organisations to understand more about market conditions and trends and to develop knowledge, skills and resources to exert more control and influence over their lives.
5. Consumer awareness raising & advocacy
Fair Trade relationships provide the basis for connecting producers with consumers and for informing consumers of the need for social justice and the opportunities for change. Consumer support enables Fair Trade Organizations to be advocates and campaigners for wider reform of international trading rules, to achieve the ultimate goal of a just and equitable global trading system.
6. Fair Trade as a “social contract”
Application of these core principles depends on a commitment to a long-term trading partnership with producers based on dialogue, transparency and respect. Fair Trade transactions exist within an implicit “social contract” in which buyers (including final consumers) agree to do more than is expected by the conventional market, such as paying fair prices, providing pre-finance and offering support for capacity building. In return for this, producers use the benefits of Fair Trade to improve their social and economic conditions, especially among the most disadvantaged members of their organisation. In this way, Fair Trade is not charity but a partnership for change and development through trade.
7. 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. Fair Traders ensure prompt payment to their partners and, whenever possible, help producers with access to pre-production financing. They also provide money for free primary schools and health care, which really help the people who are not earning enough to send their children to school.
8. Gender equality
Fair Trade means that the work of women and men is properly valued and rewarded. Each person is always paid for their contribution to the production process and are empowered in their organizations, regardless of gender.
9. Safe working conditions
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.
10. Environmental protection
Fair Trade actively encourages better environmental practices and the application of responsible methods of production. Fair Trade certifiers for example limit the use of harmful agrochemicals in favour of environmentally sustainable methods that help preserve valuable ecosystems for future generations.